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

Embodiment of capital and political distinction

Anarchists and socialists clearly have different action repertoires, and they embody and utilize different forms of cultural, social and symbolic capital. Bourdieu's theory of practice proves useful here, as it explains why and how the political action repertoires are very different in respect of the skills, knowledge and competences acquired, the political alliances and connections that are formed, and the status or legitimacy attached to such repertoires within their respective ideological contexts.

Anarchist cultural capital includes the acquisition of skills and knowledge of how to use direct action protest methods, 'Do-It- Yourself' grassroots organizing, and learning how to run collectives based on consensus decision-making procedures. The social capital acquired and utilized in the form of political connections includes linking with other direct action activists who share a broad anarchist ideology using computer-mediated technology and activist platforms such as Indymedia. In Britain, groups such as Earth First!, Reclaim the Streets and CIRCA came together to protest against the G8 in 2005, all forming part of the anarchist network, Dissent!

For socialists, cultural capital in respect of their protest repertoires is acquired through the organizing of mass campaigns, petitions and marches. The skills and knowledge gained in this way are developed and used among socialist groups in the BACMF; they are quite different from the skills of anarchists and the distinction between socialist and anarchists is therefore reinforced. Moreover, the organizing of meetings or mass mobilizations is done through majoritarian voting systems, not consensus decision-making. The socialists whom I interviewed have been keen to link-up with trade unionists, who are seen as an essential part of the class struggle, along with other groups who are willing to work with elected political parties. This latter point marks a particular divergence and distinction between anarchists and socialists

 
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