Refusing What We Are

Communicating Counter-Identities and Prefiguring Social Change in New Social Movements

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In an interview, Michel Foucault (1983: 336) said that the target today perhaps “is not to
discover what we are but to refuse what we are… to promote new forms of subjectivity”.
Protest actions by a range of new social movements have been studied extensively, but few
studies have focused on the communicative practices and mediated actions in which new
identities and forms of subjectivity are discursively produced, contingently achieved and
made visible in situ. This paper investigates what Foucault called ‘counter-conducts’,
practices in which alternative modes of subjectivation and of being governed are performed.
Counter-conducts are intriguing to study because by questioning the conduct of their conduct,
participants simultaneously question the relationship of the self to itself, playing with and
risking identity in the process.
The analysis of the United Nathans Weapons Inspections protest event draws upon Foucault’s
later work, Mitchell Dean’s (2010) analytics of government and Nikolas Rose’s (1999)
proposal for a genealogy of social movements in terms of the ethos of their alternative
political imaginations. A first step in an analytics of protest is to uncover how fields of
visibility, forms of knowledge, and subjectivities and identities are negotiated and
collaboratively accomplished by the protestors and the people they encounter. Using
ethnomethodological conversation analysis and membership categorisation analysis (EMCA),
I examine how ‘counter-identities’ are achieved and made accountable in the interactional
practices of prefigurative demonstrations and protest events. CA helps us document the ways
in which fields of visibility and modes of rationality are sequentially organised, while MCA
provides analytical tools to uncover the categorial work by which subjectivities and identities
are morally accomplished in social interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventRevisiting Identity: Embodied communication across time and space - Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden
Duration: 22 Oct 201324 Oct 2013

Seminar

SeminarRevisiting Identity
LocationÖrebro University
CountrySweden
CityÖrebro
Period22/10/201324/10/2013

Fingerprint

Social Movements
protest
subjectivity
social change
subjectivation
event
conversation analysis
genealogy
weapon
rationality
interaction
interview

Keywords

  • Discourse studies
  • Identity

Cite this

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title = "Refusing What We Are: Communicating Counter-Identities and Prefiguring Social Change in New Social Movements",
abstract = "In an interview, Michel Foucault (1983: 336) said that the target today perhaps “is not todiscover what we are but to refuse what we are… to promote new forms of subjectivity”.Protest actions by a range of new social movements have been studied extensively, but fewstudies have focused on the communicative practices and mediated actions in which newidentities and forms of subjectivity are discursively produced, contingently achieved andmade visible in situ. This paper investigates what Foucault called ‘counter-conducts’,practices in which alternative modes of subjectivation and of being governed are performed.Counter-conducts are intriguing to study because by questioning the conduct of their conduct,participants simultaneously question the relationship of the self to itself, playing with andrisking identity in the process.The analysis of the United Nathans Weapons Inspections protest event draws upon Foucault’slater work, Mitchell Dean’s (2010) analytics of government and Nikolas Rose’s (1999)proposal for a genealogy of social movements in terms of the ethos of their alternativepolitical imaginations. A first step in an analytics of protest is to uncover how fields ofvisibility, forms of knowledge, and subjectivities and identities are negotiated andcollaboratively accomplished by the protestors and the people they encounter. Usingethnomethodological conversation analysis and membership categorisation analysis (EMCA),I examine how ‘counter-identities’ are achieved and made accountable in the interactionalpractices of prefigurative demonstrations and protest events. CA helps us document the waysin which fields of visibility and modes of rationality are sequentially organised, while MCAprovides analytical tools to uncover the categorial work by which subjectivities and identitiesare morally accomplished in social interaction.",
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Refusing What We Are : Communicating Counter-Identities and Prefiguring Social Change in New Social Movements. / McIlvenny, Paul.

2013. Abstract from Revisiting Identity, Örebro, Sweden.

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

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