Tag Archives: prefigurative politics

What’s contentious about free food?

By Alex Barnard

Six days a week in People’s Park, Berkeley, 75-100 people—most of them homeless, disabled, or unemployed—line up for a free vegetarian meal served by the group “Food Not Bombs” (FNB). On most days, there’s little to spark the interest of a social movement scholar: no flyers or banners declaring a message, no attention or repression from the authorities, and no disruption of the normal rhythm of life for the students walking one block away on Telegraph Avenue. At most, FNB looks like what Sampson et al. (2005) might call a “civic group” with a “purpose”—ending hunger—but lacking the “claims” for real transformation that make for a social movement. Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, New Ways to Define Activism

Cultural Outcomes of the Occupy Movement

By William Gamson

I must begin by acknowledging the extent to which the occupy movement has occupied my own life in the last several months, knowing no boundaries between work life and social, political, and personal life.  In my worklife, I was teaching a graduate seminar on social movements (“The Quest for Social Justice”) in which each participant chooses a case to study and to which they apply the various course readings. Two of the students chose to study the Occupy Movement and, in particular, its Occupy Boston branch; a third student took the highly similar Israeli Summer tent city movement. Continue reading


Filed under Essay Dialogues, Outcomes of OWS