Complexity and Social Movements – Process and Emergence

Our argument suggests that the familiar categories and concepts that have prevailed in social movement studies are no longer adequate to the global and networked character of these forces, derived as they are from rational choice theories and political exchange models. Instead, we suggest that the AGM is best understood as an expression of social and global complexity and we draw upon a neo-materialist/complexity reading of Deleuze and Guattari to make this case. The intention of this article is to unweave the strands of subjectivity, antagonism and reflexivity that animate the movement(s) arguing that ‘another world’ or, more characteristically, ‘other worlds’ are possible.  We argue that this network of individuals, groups, projects and events constitutes an ‘alter-globalization movement’ (AGM), the emergence of which has led to global institutions of finance and governance (World Trade Organization [WTO], International Monetary Fund [IMF], G8, etc.) being reframed as controversial and contested entities. As such it comprises forces constitutive of what the New York Times has called ‘the second superpower’, a ‘new power in the streets’ that is challenging both the economic orthodoxies neo-liberalism and the ‘inverted’ totalitarianism underpinned by permanent war.


Read also: Complexity and Social Movements: Multitudes at the Edge of Chaos

About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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