Abstract:

In his classic work, ‘The Great Transformation’, Karl Polanyi (1957) proposed the notion of a ‘double movement’, referring to the idea that, together with rapid expansion of the market, social control over this process is also on the increase. In other words, talk about free trade is met with increasing resistance by those who seek greater social justice and equality. The focus of this paper falls on social movements and on mass-based attempts to challenge the effects of neo-liberal globalisation. More specifically, the paper considers the people who comprise these movements. Who is mobilising against neo-liberal globalisation? Is it those who are most adversely affected by the negative consequences of globalisation, or is it the privileged few who can afford the luxury of becoming actively engaged in struggle. In the paper a distinction is made between local social movements, and so-called progressive global social movements. Such a comparison highlights the skewed racial composition of different social movements. In considering this issue, the paper suggests that global social movements are not as representative as they claim to be, and that in order to present itself as a formidable challenge to the other component of the ‘double movement’, namely capitalist expansion, the anti-globalisation movement, as it has been dubbed, will need to address its composition and profile.

Contact: Marcelle C. Dawson; Department of Sociology, RAU; md@rau.ac.za

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