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Geographies of transnational solidarity

This book provides a critical investigation of what has been termed the ‘global justice movement’. Through a detailed study of a grassroots peasants' network in Asia (People's Global Action); an international trade union network (the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mining and General Workers); and the Social Forum process, it analyses some of the global justice movement's component parts, operational networks and their respective dynamics, strategies and practices. The authors argue that the emergence of new globally connected forms of collective action against neoliberal globalisation are indicative of a range of variously place-specific forms of political agency that coalesce across geographic space at particular times, in specific places and in a variety of ways. They also argue that, rather than being indicative of a coherent ‘movement’, such forms of political agency contain many political and geographical fissures and fault-lines, and are best conceived of as ‘global justice networks’: overlapping, interacting, competing and differentially placed and resourced networks that articulate demands for social, economic and environmental justice. Such networks, and the social movements that comprise them, characterise emergent forms of trans-national political agency. The authors argue that the role of key geographical concepts of space, place and scale are crucial to an understanding of the operational dynamics of such networks. Such an analysis challenges key current assumptions in the literature about the emergence of a global civil society.

Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

This chapter considers theoretical approaches to the study of networks, including conceptions of networking as a political practice. It briefly considers claims that have been made about networks and the emergence of global civil society. It discusses global justice networks (GJNs), and their key characteristics of diversity, creativity, convergence, scale politics, and the creation of spaces of participatory democracy and solidarity. It argues that they do not ‘act’ as a coherent actor in the manner of social movements, although some GJNs may come together, in particular times and places, in order to prosecute specific campaigns or global days of action.

in Global justice networks
Operational logics and strategies
Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

This chapter places global justice networks (GJNs) in grounded contexts by examining their operational logics and strategies. By examining network relationality and power dynamics, it shows that contrary to claims that networks operate through horizontality, elements of both horizontal and vertical operational logics are present within the practices of networking. It examines how GJNs attempt to forge transnational ‘mutual’ solidarities between their participant movements. It also argues that the operation of GJNs requires ‘networking vectors’ to further the process of communication, information-sharing and interaction within grassroots communities.

in Global justice networks
Geographical dynamics and convergence spaces
Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

This chapter argues that the geographical concepts of place and space are paramount to the understanding of social movement behaviours and, therefore, social movement networks. It considers the spatiality of global justice networks (GJNs) exploring how they prosecute political action across multiple geographical scales. It concludes by introducing the concept of convergence space with which to understand the dynamics of GJNs.

in Global justice networks
Peasant solidarity as horizontal networking?
Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

This chapter considers People's Global Action (Asia), a recently established, non-hierarchical global network of diverse Asian grassroots social movements and activists, committed to decentralisation and political initiatives outside the realm of formal state politics. Its main function is to oppose the destructive consequences of neoliberal policies and to develop concrete alternatives.

in Global justice networks
Labour internationalism as vertical networking?
Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

This chapter focuses upon the International Federation for Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers (ICEM), a longer established global union federation with more a formal hierarchical organizational structure, with power largely centred on national affiliates. Its primary objective is concerned with improving the working conditions of its membership worldwide and contesting employment change through formal state structures.

in Global justice networks
Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

This chapter presents an analysis and interpretation of the World Social Forum (WSF) process. By its nature, its subject matter is broader and more discursive than the more specific case studies, but it also deals with the fundamental issues of solidarity, democracy, and grassroots engagement. More than any other development, the WSF process has come to embody the new democratic and participatory ideals of the broader international resistance against neoliberalism with its aspiration to provide an open and enabling space for debate about alternatives to neoliberalism.

in Global justice networks
Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

This chapter summarises the key themes and findings of the book and evaluates current theoretical and empirical debates about global civil society, participative democracy, and transnational solidarity within global justice networks (GJNs). It argues that issues of space and scale are critical to the sustainability and future strategy of GJNs. Tensions arise between developing more horizontalist networks that facilitate democracy and grassroots participation, and the need to develop structures that can relay a global consciousness down to local activists. This chapter argues that understanding the potential for GJNs to develop a sustainable politics of international solidarity involves not just understanding the way that the ‘local’ is enmeshed in wider spatial relations, but also, and perhaps more critically, assessing how the ‘global’ is invoked in struggles that take place nationally and locally.

in Global justice networks
Paul Routledge and Andrew Cumbers

A new global ‘movement’ has arisen over the past decade to confront global capitalism. The emergence of what has been termed the global justice movement (GJM) is the most significant development in counter-systemic politics since the end of the Cold War. This chapter outlines the contours of this phenomenon before addressing the character of global justice networks in more detail in subsequent chapters. First, it considers the rise of neoliberalism as a global economic project. Second, it traces the genesis of the international resistance against this project including some of the key events, for example, the 1994 declaration of the Zapatistas against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the subsequent emergence of European and World Social Forums. Third, the chapter considers some of the broad characteristics of this resistance. The chapter ends with an outline of subsequent chapters.

in Global justice networks