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Home arrow Sociology arrow Bourdieu and Social Movements: Ideological Struggles in the British Anti-Capitalist Movement

Defining anti-capitalism

Anti-capitalist groups are those groups that are revolutionary in their aims and political vision. These groups are a smaller subsection of the wider, alternative globalization protests, which is made up of range of reformist and revolutionary movements. The anti-capitalists are those that are against neoliberal globalization, but ultimately wish to overthrow the capitalist system, and think that this is the only way real political and economic equality can be achieved. Therefore:

Anti-capitalism begins with the commitment to the idea that capitalism cannot produce societies fit for all or even most of the people who live in them, and follows with a commitment to a realistic, achievable alternative. That alternative would necessarily mean the planned use of major economic resources to achieve a society in which all human beings could live more fully human lives. (Myers, 2002: 33)

Not all groups within the wider AGM field are revolutionary and this is a point of contention. However, as has been described above, the AGM is a nebulous and amorphous set of groups that come together during certain times, particularly global summit meetings. It is not a coherent movement with a set of objectives. It only exists because the same groups have realized that they are negatively affected by neoliberalism to a greater or lesser extent. Thus I employ the concept of field, which is a more useful explanatory concept than movement, since it encompasses not only a diverse range of actors, organizations and loose-knit groups but sometimes elites, the media and authorities that might enter the field and wish to change the dynamic in order to alter the balance of the struggle (chapter 6). My reasons for focusing primarily on British anti-capitalist dynamics are threefold. First, British anti-capitalist groups were at the forefront of the new wave of 21st-century protests against neoliberalism. Second, they have helped shape this field of contention, not just in terms of targeting neoliberalism, but in the way in which anti-capitalist politics operates. Third, British anti-capitalist groups provide an excellent case study to show why we need a fresh theoretical take on social movements, since the complex political dynamics cannot be explained by established social movement theories.

I now explain why Bourdieu's theoretical technologies offer a more suitable framework for understanding and explaining the political dynamics of British anti-capitalism and its relationship with the wider AGM field.

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