Handbook of Political Citizenship and Social Movements
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Handbook of Political Citizenship and Social Movements

Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden

This Handbook uniquely collates the results of several decades of academic research in these two important fields. The expert contributions successively address the different forms of political citizenship and current approaches and recent developments in social movement studies. Salient social movements in recent history are explored in depth, covering the environmental, women’s, international human rights, urban, Tea Party, and animal rights movements. Social movements and political citizenship in the ‘global South’: China, India, Africa, and the Arab World, are discussed, presenting a novel empirical insight into these fields of study.
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Chapter 11: The new social movement approach

Christian Scholl


In contrast to other approaches, the new social movement (NSM) approach stands out, with its complicated language and yet less structured analytical categories. Because it is the first approach to pay extensive attention to the cultural dimension of contentious politics, it is an important theoretical tradition to consider in relation to political citizenship and social movements. It eschews the assumption that social movements are to be directed merely at (national) governments and institutional reform (even political revolution), by explicitly attempting directly to influence society and culture. First, this chapter presents the main arguments made by various contributors to the NSM approach. Second, I summarize the main critiques and debates it has unleashed. Third, I examine recent developments of this approach, specifically in the context of globalization. Fourth, this chapter identifies a number of challenges posed by these developments and makes suggestions for future research. Now, let me historically contextualize the emergence of the NSM approach.

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