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Global rörelse : Den globala rättviserörelsen och modernitetens omvandlingar

Global Movement : The Global Justice Movement and the Transformations of Modernity


  • Magnus Wennerhag

Summary, in English

A basic premise of this dissertation is that social movements are political and social actors expressing the centrality of autonomy in modernity. To grasp the nature of the relation between politics and social movements, the latter has to be related to the profound transformation in the forms of politics implied by the breakthrough of modernity, and the subsequent transformations within modernity. Following Peter Wagner’s theory and periodization of modernity, a central premise of this dissertation is that the tension between liberation and order—or between liberty and discipline—is to be conceived of as a foundation for the cultural self-understanding as well as the transformations of modernity. When the premises for this tension is challenged and renegotiated during the crises of modernity, social movements have often played a prominent role, in creating solutions, drafting utopian projects, making social experiments and bringing forward new values and forms of action.

The dissertation is divided in two parts. The first is oriented towards social theory and social movement theories, while the second part is more empirically oriented, studying the contemporary global justice movement, the activists of the movement and one of its primary forms of mobilization: the social forum. The empirical data primarily concerns the Swedish part of the movement, using activist interviews and survey data, but similar survey data from other countries is also used in order to make a comparative analysis possible.

In the first part of the dissertation I offer a survey of various social movement theories since the conceptualization of the emerging worker’s movement during the mid-19th century, to the theories on new social movements created from the 1960s onwards. In particular, the theories of Lorenz von Stein, Gustave Le Bon and Alain Touraine are focused. From these discussions, I derive three persistent problématiques that I consider to be central in the study of social movements, when it comes to grasping their relation to politics and autonomy, making either mediation, collective action or creativity the explanatory basis for understanding the evolvement and political role of social movements.

Using the perspective established in the first part, I focus on the global justice movement in the second part of the dissertation. Here, I show that the global justice movement is characterized by a complex relation to institutionalized politics, by a global perspective on issues about democracy and social justice, by its organizational and political diversity, by its creation of new political spaces (especially the social forums) and its transgression of the national political context. At large, it is claimed that the global justice movement can be said to embrace a “participatory democratic” view of politics, rooted in the institutional transformations created by globalization and the cultural changes connected to the individualization of our time.

Publishing year




Document type



Bokförlaget Atlas


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • Lorenz von Stein
  • social change
  • individualization
  • social movements
  • democracy
  • civil society
  • globalization
  • sociology
  • Gustave Le Bon
  • modernity
  • Alain Touraine
  • Peter Wagner
  • global justice movement
  • creativity
  • collective action
  • world social forum
  • mediation
  • politics




  • Staffan Lindberg


  • ISBN: 978-91-85677-59-7

Defence date

18 April 2008

Defence time


Defence place

Edens hörsal, Lund


  • Håkan Thörn (Professor)