Global Activism (Hardback) book cover

Global Activism

By Ruth Reitan

© 2007 – Routledge

338 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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About the Book

This comprehensive study traces the transnationalization of activist networks, analyzing their changing compositions and characters and examining the roles played by the World Social Forum in this process.

Comparing four of the largest global networks targeting the 'neoliberal triumvirate' of the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organization:

  • the Jubilee anti-debt campaigners
  • Via Campesina peasant farmers
  • Our World Is Not For Sale
  • and the anarchistic Peoples’ Global Action.

Written by a scholar-activist, the book highlights that despite their diversity, these collective actors follow a similar globalizing path and that networks in which solidarity is based on a shared identity perceived as threatened by neoliberal change are gaining strength. Social forums are depicted as a fertile ground to strengthen networks and a common ground for cooperative action among them, but also a battleground over the future of the forum process, the global anti-neoliberal struggle, and 'other possible worlds' in the making.

Global Activism will appeal to students and scholars interested in globalization, international relations, IPE and social movements.


Ruth Reitan seeks the core of global activism today and finds it in four key networks - the Jubilee anti-debt campaign and its offshoots, Our World is Not for Sale, Via Campesina and the Chiapas-derived People's Global Action. All four have forged significant ties, launched joint campaigns, participated in mass protests, and helped to initiate the social forum process. Impressive as her narratives are, even more striking is that her book shows that, in spite of considerable diversity, each of the four cases has followed a similar trajectory from local to global. This is a book that both activists and academics will have to read if they want to begin to answer the question at its core: "is there a global social movement?

Sidney Tarrow, Cornell University, USA

Ruth Reitan’s timely book provides an engaging and lucid analysis of what I think is the most important political development of this young century. Her explorations of some of the major transnational campaigns for global justice reveal the rich historical traditions and the vibrant networks of individuals and organizations that have shaped contemporary activism in the World Social Forums. This book contributes important new evidence and offers a theoretical perspective that will help further our collective work to advance understandings of transnational activism. It will be of great use to students, scholars, and global citizens.

Jackie Smith, University of Notre Dame, USA

Reitan’s book combines novel theoretical tools with extremely detailed and extensive empirical material to produce an original contribution to the study of transnational social movements. Drawing on insights from research on international political economy and social movements it provides a stimulating interdisciplinary argument. It is a rare pleasure to read a book that so effectively mixes a hard-nosed theoretically driven approach with a clear passion for the movements it studies.

Thomas Olesen, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Table of Contents

1. The Globalization of Neoliberalism and of Activism: An Introduction 2. Global Activism: Methodology and Scholarly Review 3. Toward Jubilee 2000 and Beyond 4. Our World Is Not for Sale 5. Via Campesina 6. Zapatista-Inspired Peoples’ Global Action 7. Concluding Reflections on Present and Future Scholarship and Activism

About the Author

Ruth Reitan is Visiting Assistant Professor at University of Miami’s Department of International Studies, USA.

About the Series

Rethinking Globalizations

This series is designed to break new ground in the literature on globalisation and its academic and popular understanding. Rather than perpetuating or simply reacting to the economic understanding of globalisation, this series seeks to capture the term and broaden its meaning to encompass a wide range of issues and disciplines and convey a sense of alternative possibilities for the future.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Civil Rights
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Advocacy