Social movements never died: community politics and the social economy in the Irish Republic.
This paper argues for a socialist feminist theorisation of social movements that starts from the ?hidden knowledge? of situated social relations, needs and struggles. In this perspective, social movements are a constant presence in the social world, although taking different institutional forms; they do not ?revive? so much as develop, or ?fade away? so much as retreat. This paper discusses one example.
Community politics in the Irish Republic, largely and significantly powered by women's activism, spans the urban working class and the rural marginalised in a challenge to official ?development?. These movements use participatory praxis to articulate locally felt needs, adding a second dimension to official nationalist and labour corporatisms. This gendered focus on participation and the hidden dimension of needs makes explicit the connection between public action and private struggle.
These movements currently find their limits in difficulties with alliance-building beyond the local spheres of tacit knowledge and a tendency to co-optation by the state, converting activists into subcontracted civil servants. An understanding of movements as the organisation of situated skills can both account for this and help activists to push the other way, challenging the official knowledge of market and state on its own terrain.
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