Welcome to Resisterville: American Dissidents in British Columbia by Kathleen Rodgers opens with a vignette. In 2004, residents of the small and remote Canadian town of Nelson unveiled a plan to erect a statue celebrating the contributions of the thousands of American Vietnam War “draft-dodgers” that had made their way to, and settled in, the region between 1965 and 1973. What seemed like a small local matter garnered significant international interest, including media attention from outlets such as the New York Times and Fox News. At the height of the controversy, the public discourse echoed the divisive debate that had surrounded the actions of the war resisters since the Vietnam War itself. While some news coverage described the monument as lunacy, shameful, or cowardice, other outlets argued that the resisters deserved recognition and respect. Continue reading
Category Archives: Great Books for Summer Reading 2014
My suggestion for great summer reading is Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility by Sarah A. Soule (2009, Cambridge University Press). I recommend it to scholars of social movements and collective behavior because of its focus on anticorporate activism. Much of the work in social movement research focuses on activism against the state. Historically, scholars defined social movements by that very feature (Tarrow, 2011). However, social movements are increasingly targeting nonstate actors. Soule’s book helps us understand how and why this happens and to what ends.
Soule begins by providing a broad overview of social movement theories, especially as they relate to actions against corporations. She distinguishes between contentious politics, in which activists target states, and private politics, in which activists do not target or involve the state in their actions. Soule rightly acknowledges that the scene on the ground often involves complex combinations of private and contentious politics, as is the case when the state is drawn into conflicts between activists and corporations. She illustrates the complexity of maintaining this analytical distinction throughout the book. Continue reading