Italian academic speaks about the decline of the Alter-Globalization movement

“The scant attention paid by sociologists to the decline of the alter-globalization movement in Europe is surprising, when compared to the research effort employed in trying to explain its emergence.” This is according to an Italian academic, Dr Antonio Famiglietti who recently visited Rhodes University’s departments of Politics and Sociology to give a seminar on the decline of the Alter-Globalization Movement in Europe entitled: the decline of the Alter-Globalization movement in Europe: Towards the end of conflict?”.  

“Yet, to understand the de-structuring process of that movement, which produced its highest media impact during the tragic days of July 2001 in Genoa, would also be helpful in shedding some light on some of the controversies that arose during its initial interpretation,” these were the words by Italian academic, Dr Famiglietti.

Although Dr Famiglietti used much, if not all of the examples of his talk from his native Italy and sometimes other parts of Europe the audience was able to ask questions relating the talk to the South African and African situation when it comes to the death of the social movement.

He said that the thesis he gave in the first part of the paper (he presented) stemmed from the premise that two research questions needed to be kept “analytically separate” when investigating the popular movement as “character”.

Quoting Melucci: 1989: 24) he said, “the question of what holds heterogeneous components of a popular movement together, from 2) the question of what kind of conflict some components of the common action engaged in by the social movement are able to structure.” In other words, he continued, “a differentiation is necessary between two principles; namely 1) the principle of convergence of the popular movement, from 2) its principle of autonomy.

When asked what the meaning of ‘autonomy’ to the topic was, he said that by autonomy he meant ‘the fact that the tension, typical of social movements, to construct both an autonomous discourse and the independent organization is related to the definition of a conflict that contains antagonistic, or non-negotiable elements.’

 “Furthermore, this conflict is in a relation of mutual causality [1] with what can be defined as a utopian tension that is also part and parcel of a social movement’s action (“another world is possible” in the case of the alter-globalizers).”

 When asked what could have been the cause of much of the social movment(s)? He said that it differed from country to country, and that though he didn’t have a definite answer a lot of factors were involved in the decline of such a movement or movements. 

 A final year Sociology PhD student, Komlan Agbedahin said in his response to the question that he believed that the death of apartheid for instance, when it comes to South Africa, also played a huge role in the decline of the social movement.

By Rudzani Floyd Musekwa




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