Anti-globalization activists have done little to slow capitalism’s global march. Many of the gains made by decades of identity-based movements have been limited to privileged subgroups.The lesson of these movements is clear: struggle for change is essential, but the direction of change matters considerably.
Like movements of the past, current social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and the growing anti-Trump movement, must navigate a path between reformism and radicalism, pragmatism and idealism, capture and independence.
In Conform, Fail, Repeat: How Power Distorts Collective Action Christopher Samuel uses Pierre Bourdieu’s central “thinking tools” to show how power and domination force movements into a no-win choice between conformity and failure. With special attention to North American LGBTQ politics and the G20 protests in Toronto, Conform, Fail, Repeat shows how Bourdieu’s work can give movement observers as well as participants new tools for tracking and avoiding the pitfalls of conformity and failure.
Christopher Samuel holds a PhD in Political Studies and is a research consultant in Toronto with special interest in labour, social movement politics, and identity.