Direct Social Action Beyond Party Politics. How New Subjectivities Change the Idea of Social Transformation

Felix Butzlaff, Michael Deflorian

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

Currently proliferating alternative action organizations, such as
food cooperatives, solidary agriculture, repair cafés, or DIY
initiatives, pursue social transformation at a deliberate distance
from party politics. Instead, they concentrate on changing society
directly by altering everyday routines and thereby prefiguring an
alternative society. Local and experimental movements promise
to pioneer social alternatives, which traditional organizations
appear to be unable to accomplish. This indicates a remarkable
shift, since in the past, social mobilizations often pursued direct
social action and party politics simultaneously. The current
literature conceptualizes movements and parties primarily as
cross-fertilizing allies or even potential hybrids (movement
parties) yet struggles to explain why alternative action
organizations in countries that have not experienced post-crisis
austerity measures have largely abandoned the parliamentary
arena. Addressing this gap, we compare contemporary
understandings of direct social action in Germany with past
understandings: that of the 1920s labour movement and the
1970s new social movements. Applying sociological theories of
modernization, we demonstrate that processes of
individualization and flexibilization have increased the demand
for immediate experiences of social change and decreased the
attractiveness of formal organization. Since this makes strategic
alliances between movements and political parties increasingly
unlikely, societies’ capacity to organize long-term social struggles
might be impaired.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 21
JournalPolitical Research Exchange
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 506014 Comparative politics
  • 504001 General sociology
  • 504 not use (legacy)

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