All posts tagged: challenger movements

Claiming and Contesting Meanings and Symbols of the Nation

The nation as a constructed concept frames a commonality amongst citizens who live within the borders of a defined land mass. The conceptual common terrain of nation has provided a large part of the ground upon which the idea of a public was built. Though a plausibly common terrain, it is also an arena of contestation. Different particular actors within nations vie for hegemony — to shape both power relations and the symbolic universe through which relations and reality are interpreted. Other particular actors have to emerge, to construct themselves (i.e. to organize), and to demand their place and their rights as equals within—as part of—the nation and the public. Here by actors I mean groups, aggregations, identities, etc. that congeal and organize sufficiently to develop the capacity for aligned collective action. The emergence of such actors requires some articulated common aspect of identity (e.g. women, blacks, workers of the world, Protestants, etc.). That commonality, internal to the identity of the actor/aggregation, also defines ways that members of the group are different from others. Such …

common pitfalls of challenger movements

Maybe you noticed that I’ve been writing about hegemonic struggle lately (here, here, and here) — about strategic frameworks for political and cultural contestation. Hegemonic contestation, as I’ve been discussing, in concert with capacity-building, leadership-building, organizational-building processes, is IMHO the thing to do. It is central to the how of political change; the yes; the what to do in the instruction manual. If this is a core political conceptual framework, as I believe it is, why is it shrouded in mystery? Why are the basics unknown to so many who are engaged in the modern phenomenon we commonly refer to as “activism”? Why is such a foundational aspect of mounting a viable political challenge so unfamiliar to so many would-be challengers? Part of the answer may be found in the below list of common pitfalls that many challenger movements fall into (in our era and specifically in the United States). This is a list of patterns, attitudes, orientations, etc. that often stand in our way. These are internal problems — conceptual problems, really — which …