Identity, place and politics: from picket lines to occupation

Ruiz, Pollyanna (2016) Identity, place and politics: from picket lines to occupation. In: Rovisco, Maria and Corpus Ong, Jonathan (eds.) Taking the square; mediated dissent and occupations of public space. Radical subjects in international politics: action and activism . Rowman and Littlefield International, London and New York. ISBN 9781783483952

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This chapter contribution will explore the way in which protesters’ physical occupation of city spaces has unfolded over time. It will begin by focusing on the way in which those who perceive themselves to have been excluded from the process of democracy demonstrate their lack of place within the wider community by occupying shared public spaces. It will go on to examine the way in which these dynamics have been enacted by protesters through the formation of picket lines during trade union disputes, the creation of a permanent picket outside South African Embassies during anti-apartheid campaigns, and the occupation of city squares during more recent demonstrations against the austerity measures. In doing so, it will trace an important series of interconnected shifts in protest culture. The factory gate picket line was an expression of bottom-up class-based resistance predicated on the withdrawal of labour. In contrast, protests against apartheid were not bound together by collective experience. They were mobilised by an identity politics that transcended shared community boundaries. Moreover, their call to action was based upon a refusal to participate in the labour of consumption rather production. This stretching out of the relationship between identity, place and politics has been further extended by anti-austerity protesters. Anti-austerity protests draw on a network of disembodied social identities and networks rather than community-based ties. Furthermore, their simultaneous occupation of city spaces implicated in the nebulous and intangible dynamics of neo-liberalism attempts to construct a sense of collective identity beyond the production/consumption binary of global capital. This analysis will illuminate the way in which protest sites and demonstrative forms are intimately connected, and contribute to the theorisation of politics from below.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Protest, Place, Identity, Politics
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0621 Culture
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0831 Social change
Depositing User: Pollyanna Ruiz
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2016 11:16
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2017 17:33

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