RC48 Social Movements, Collective Actions and Social Change (host committee)
This session debates developmentalism in social movement theory. Social movement theory, implicitly or otherwise, defines the movement by its developmental epoch. Periodisation commonly constructs ‘leading edge’ movements in the socio-economic heartlands, as ‘new’, relegating the rest. With the globalization of development crises – from climate crisis to financial crisis – development ideology has become politicized, for all societies. The ‘developed’ world has itself become the key site of global development problems, while late industrialisers now claim a role as drivers for alternative social models. Increasingly, social movements can gain a key role in challenging and transforming developmentalist models and ideologies. In this context, movement projects can circulate and find new traction across global divides – from occupy the squares, to climate justice. With transnationally-defined social and ecological crises, social movement theory can find new scope and relevance by engaging with critiques of developmentalism. What might this add to our understanding of social movements? What possibilities may this open-up, especially for strengthening Southern theory of movements? What may be its epistemological assumptions or methodological biases? And where, in terms of places and social forces, may it have most application and purchase?