Movement Cultures

Stolen from culturalpolitics

Movement Cultures.

The shared values, styles, behaviors, language, traditions, symbols, and/or other forms of group definition by which a social movement marks itself as unique. A movement-specific ideology or set of beliefs is perhaps the most conscious marker of a movement culture, but much of a movement culture may be unspoken, invisible, such as a sense of connection based on shared past experiences. Tangible markers of a movement culture might include: a special way of talking (a shared slang, or movement-specific slogans); rituals or ritualized behaviors (singing in a circle, a special kind of handshake); a uniform or stylized clothing (ethnicity-specific clothing, overalls to mark sympathy with poor farmers); a symbol (a black panther, the Aztec eagle of the farmworkers flag); a movement-identified form of artistic expression (black freedom songs, Chicano murals); movement folklore (stories of past victories or defeats, jokes about an opponent’s follies); identification with tradition (a hero of the past, a history of previous struggles, revival of a suppressed or forgotten ethnic custom). A variety of other terms have been suggested to name the phenomena of a movement developing a special pattern of connection, including: movement communities, oppositional subcultures, cultures of solidarity, cultural havens. All these have in common the sense that movements create special patterns of interaction and expression that distinguish them from the wider, surrounding culture. Movements clearly differ in the degree to which they develop a specific culture, and no movement is ever fully isolated from or free from the influences of the larger culture(s) of which it is a part. For an attempt to categorize and characterize differing degrees or intensities of movement culture, see John Lofland, “Charting Degrees of Movement Culture: Tasks of the Cultural Cartographer,” in Johnston and Klandermans, eds. Social Movements and Culture (1995).

See also Smugosphere

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