Keith Kahn Harris

professionally curious, communally engaged

Naming the movement redux

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There’s a fascinating piece by Paul Mason published in the Guardian today on the global unrest of the last 18 months or so. The article summarises  the arguments of his new book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions which I haven’t yet read so I will refrain from commenting until I do.

Mason mentions me in passing in the article:

Sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris calls what we’re seeing the “movement without a name”: a trend, a direction, an idea-virus, a meme, a source of energy that can be traced through a large number of spaces and projects.

It’s very flattering to be mentioned in this way. Mason is referring to an article I wrote for Open democracy a few months ago called Naming The Movement. It engendered a reasonable amount of discussion at the time and I’m glad that it’s got more publicity.

Looking back on my article, what’s fascinating is that I was writing before Occupy started and when the Arab Spring was only just getting goiong. It’s not that I was particularly prescient, it’s that I was mostly thinking about social innovation and creativity when I wrote about the article and only partially about radical politics and social change. While my arguments do apply to Occupy et al, it’s important to bear in mind that the nameless meme we are talking about is broader and deeper than the radicalism Mason is interested in. Hopefully that’s the source of its power.

I’d also like to remind readers of another piece I had published in Open Democracy in December that revists the same themes from a slightly different angle. In addition, I’m co-editing a book looking back on 2011 and we are still accepting submissions.

 

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