Complexity and Social Movements: Multitudes at the Edge of Chaos, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Complexity and Social Movements

Multitudes at the Edge of Chaos, 1st Edition

By Graeme Chesters, Ian Welsh


196 pages

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Fusing two key concerns of contemporary sociology: globalization and its discontents, and the 'complexity turn' in social theory, authors Chesters and Welsh utilize complexity theory to analyze the shifting constellation of social movement networks that constitute opposition to neo-liberal globalization. They explore how seemingly chaotic and highly differentiated social actors interacting globally through computer mediated communications, face-to-face gatherings and protests constitute a 'multitude' not easily grasped through established models of social and political change.

Drawing upon extensive empirical research and utilizing concepts drawn from the natural and social sciences this book suggests a framework for understanding mobilization, identity formation and information flows in global social movements operating within complex societies. It suggests that this 'movement of movements' exhibits an emergent order on the edge of chaos, a turbulence that is recasting political agency in the twenty-first century.


'This is the first seriously theoretical and empirically rich book I've found on the new global movements. It manages to bring together social movement studies, the neo-vitalism of Gilles Deleuze and complexity theory in one text' - PhD Student, Cambridge

'…there is a lot to like and admire about Complexity and Social Movements…. The obligatory discussion (seemingly mandatory in books about ‘globalization’) about ‘global civil society’ is excellent and important, and other fascinating insights can be garnered throughout the book. The book would best serve as a text for a graduate-level social theory course or maybe a special-topics seminar on globalization.'

-Dana Williams, Valdosta State University, in Social Movement Studies, vol 10 iss 4

Table of Contents

1. Introducing Global Movements 2. Prefiguration and Emergence 3. Reflexive Framing: Identities, Protest Dynamics and Technology 4. From Carnival Against Capitalism to Death at High Noon: States Fight Back 5. Ecologies of Action within Global Civil Society 6. Shadow Realm: Beyond Resistance to Global Nexus 7. The Death of Collective Identity? Global Movement as a Parallelogram of Forces 8. The Map is Not the Territory

About the Series

International Library of Sociology

The International Library of Sociology (ILS) is the most important series of books on sociology ever published. Founded in the 1940s by Karl Mannheim, the series became the forum for pioneering research and theory, marked by comparative approaches and the identification of new directions in sociology, publishing major figures in Anglo-American and European sociology, from Durkheim and Weber to Parsons and Gouldner, and from Ossowski and Klein to Jasanoff and Walby.

Its new editors, John Holmwood (University of Nottingham, UK) and Vineeta Sinha (National University of Singapore), plan to develop the series as a truly global project, reflecting new directions and contributions outside its traditional centres, and connecting with the original aim of the series to produce sociological knowledge that addresses pressing global social problems and supports democratic debate.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General