By Sarah Maddison

Peace marches, protest demonstrations and campaigns for or opposed to each reason conceivable have lengthy been a part of the Australian social and political panorama. This energetic ebook blends the voices and studies of insiders interested by specific motives with an even bigger photo that analyses successes and screw ups, verbal exchange of principles and social and political affects.

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Extra info for Activist Wisdom: Practical Knowledge And Creative Tension in Social Movements

Sample text

After the 1960s, Americans rarely asked ‘why’ social movements appeared. They focused, instead, on ‘how’ they came to prominence (Klandermans & Tarrow 1988: 9). There was a pragmatic cast to most research. It tended to economics more than philosophy (Eyerman & Jamison 1991: 31–32). Resources were weighed and organisations evaluated. Meanings and dreams were too elusive to be of much use (Melucci 1989: 21–22). 2 The most exciting researchers largely bypassed the concept of ‘social movement’. They did not provide competing definitions; they simply avoided the term (Tilly 2002: 689).

What about printing? In those days we used to have to use the old Gestetner roneoing machine, and nine times out of ten it would break down and you’d end up having to do it by hand and you’d be hours, you know, running something off. Today, these skills are useless. Printers are less important than computer geeks; veteran filers scratch their heads and try to understand Microsoft Access. Seasoned activists no longer understand the sticky artistry of the ‘lay out’. A new and distinctive body of knowledge is required.

Abstruse theories are now disconnected from practical struggle. They answer academic opponents, not comrades in the field. The impressive intellectual edifice developed over the last 40 years has led away from the passion and tumult of the streets. The tenured radicals of the contemporary academy largely ignore tactical questions. They translate practical concerns into theoretical conundrums (Meyer 1999: 91). There are grants to win and papers to publish; theoretical accounts to fill out; vain enemies to puncture.

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