Corporeal Social Movements

Many of us who study social movements were at one point involved in social movements. Those who are, or have been, involved in a social movement have probably experienced the emotional intensity and the accompanying emotional and bodily exhaustion so often connected to social movements. Activists put their bodies on the line for a particular cause, risking permanent damage either by injury during a protest or action—accidental or on purpose—or by devoting long hours to the cause, to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion. Conversely, there is also the daily boredom and repetition that often accompanies movements—copying filers, scheduling and attending endless meetings and events, writing press releases, etc. For me, concepts like Political Opportunity Structure, Resource Mobilization, and Discursive Opportunity Structure, while important, fail to capture the intense, emotional, and at times boring, lived experience of activists.

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