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Title: Our London : grassroots activism in the post-Fordist city
Author: Mukherjee, Jacob
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 2770
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis, based on a critical “militant ethnography” (Juris 2007) with an auto-ethnographic component, applies the Gramscian concepts of party, leadership and class (Gramsci 1971) to analyse the attempts of the small radical grassroots activist group Our London (OL) to mobilise a collective oppositional politics within a highly unequal city. The group - which was loosely structured, socially and politically heterogeneous and run on very few resources - aimed to mobilise around economic inequality in London through a campaign for the 2016 London elections. I was a founding member of the group and heavily involved in its activities for much of the research period; my account is therefore necessarily a partial one and involves critical reflection on my own practice as well as that of the group as a whole. Through analysis of data collected - including through interviews, observation, collation of internal documents, emails and Facebook posts - I outline how the dispositions and orientations of OL’s activists informed their praxis, developing in the process a novel account of activism as a located social practice. I also explore the collective political activities of the group, discussing the need to articulate identities to interests and the central role of what Dean (2016) calls “crowd events” (p8). I situate my analysis of grassroots organising within the context of what is often termed post-Fordism: a form of contemporary capitalism characterised by flexibility and decentralisation in workplace organisation and the rise of the informational economy (Harvey 1989; Lazzarrato 1996; Hall 1988). I argue that Gramsci’s (1971) emphasis on the “feeling-passion” (p418) that underpins political collectivity and the need for political action to “develop, solidify and universalise” (p227) incipient expression of class sentiment are more pertinent than ever in societies that operate, as Gilbert (2013) argues, upon neoliberal logics hostile to the very notion and practice and collectivity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral