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    Scholarship and Activism: A Social Movements Perspective

    Cox, Laurence (2015) Scholarship and Activism: A Social Movements Perspective. Studies in Social Justice, 9 (1). pp. 34-53. ISSN 1911-4788

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    This article revisits the debate over Barker and Cox’s (2011) use of Gramsci’s distinction between traditional and organic intellectuals to contrast academic and activist modes of theorizing about social movements. Often misread as an attack on personal choices in career and writing, the distinction aimed to highlight the different purposes, audiences, and social relationships entailed by these different forms of theorizing. Discourses which take ‘scholarship’ as their starting point position ‘activist’ as a personal choice within an institutional field, and substitute this moral commitment for a political assessment of its effects. By contrast, few academics have undergone the political learning curve represented by social movements. This may explain the widespread persistence – beyond any intellectual or empirical credibility – of a faith in ‘critical scholarship’ isolated from agency, an orientation to policy makers and mainstream media as primary audiences or an unquestioned commitment to existing institutional frameworks as pathways to substantial social change. Drawing on over three decades of movement participation and two of academic work, this article explores two processes of activist training within the academy. It also explores the politics of different experiences of theoretical publishing for social movements audiences. This discussion focuses on the control of the “means of mental production” (Marx, 1965), and the politics of distribution. The conclusion explores the broader implications of these experiences for the relationship between movements and research.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: social movements; learning and knowledge production; Gramsci; organic intellectuals; activist scholarship;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 6686
    Depositing User: Dr. Laurence Cox
    Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2015 14:52
    Journal or Publication Title: Studies in Social Justice
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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