– Alternative economic systems (e.g. post-growth; economic localisation, etc.)
– Food systems/food sovereignty
– Indigenous movements
– Human rights/humanitarianism
– International migration/multiculturalism
– Health systems
You will need to identify a current issue related to the above themes and examine the strategies utilized by one or more social movements organised around that issue. Your essay should have a clear conceptual framework (theory, concepts and methods), which will help you build a hypothesis (proposed explanation for the issue at hand) and a coherent argument.
Many social movements straddle more than one of the themes outlined above. For example, some indigenous movements are primarily concerned with agrarian reform and issues around food sovereignty. Similarly, social movements that are concerned with international migrants (e.g. refugees) are also concerned with human rights regimes and health systems.
Concentrate on no more than two of the issues targeted by a social movement. For example, if you were to choose La Via Campesina or the Zapatista movement as your case study (social movement) then you could concentrate on one or two of their campaigns: against land grabbing; against the patenting of seeds; the promotion of women’s rights and protection of women’s knowledge; local autonomy, etc.
In your essay you should develop and analyse the following:
a) Origins and background of the specific social movement(s) being examined
b) Main goals and values espoused by the movement(s): in particular, focus on their position around (cultural and ethnic) identity and rights framing
c) Explain whether their strategies can be defined as ruptural (e.g. anti-capitalist; anti-globalisation); interstitial or as symbiotic (or a mix of these) (see: Erik Olin Wright’s reading on Real Utopias)
d) Based on the evidenced gathered conclude by commenting on the viability and success of the social movement(s) examined. This should be done in regards to the movements own aims and goals, but with consideration of broader global circumstances and structures.
Before you go on to do your independent research go back to the related essential readings to re-acquaint yourself with the key concepts and issues, and then go through the list of ‘Other recommended readings’, as a good starting point to identify: 1) the main issues/movement around the specific theme in the existing literature; and, 2) journals where you can find other articles on related issues.
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