ARI Working Paper Series
ARIWPS 220 On the Origins and Reflexivity of Autonomy and Social Movements in CybUrbia
Publisher : Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Publication Date : May / 2014
Author/Speaker: MAROLT Peter
Keywords : social movement theory, social action, spaces of autonomy, Castells

This thought piece aims to inject an argument into social movement studies that has been made almost 20 years ago in a different context: that the theory of ‘social action’ (i.e. situated conduct that has a “social meaning”) remains to be so widespread in academic knowledge production that we forget to ask -- and thus face a severe lack of theorization of -- how people manage to act and create movements at all? Where do our power of agency and capacity to act originate? Akin to Colin Campbell’s call for a theory of ‘action’ rather than of ‘social action’, I suggest that now is the time to consider in our work the benefits of thinking about ‘movement’ studies rather than ‘social movement’ studies. This necessitates specific emphasis on individual agency and autonomy and on the idea of a “free subject” (Foucault).