Refigurative Politics: Understanding the Volatile Participation of Critical Creatives in Community Gardens, Repair Cafés and Clothing Swaps

Deflorian, Michael ORCID: (2021) Refigurative Politics: Understanding the Volatile Participation of Critical Creatives in Community Gardens, Repair Cafés and Clothing Swaps. Social Movement Studies, 20 (3). pp. 346-363. ISSN 1474-2829

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Collective alternative everyday practices (CAEPs), such as commu-nity gardens, clothing swaps or repair cafés, have become a prominent sight in the critical-creative milieus. So far, CAEPs have been mostly conceptualized in terms of prefigurative politics, i.e. as the strategy to change society through an everyday conduct that fully reflects idealized notions of the Self and society. However, there is increasing evidence of practitioners who engage in rather irregular, spontaneous ways and remain bound to an unsustainable consumer lifestyle. Scholars have identified such volatile participation as a problem for mobilization, but have not answered a) how the lack of continuous embodiment can be understood from a social movement perspective, and b) what the political quality of this behaviour might be. In this article, I address these research questions by drawing on theories of the late-modern subject and existing qualitative studies. Late-Modern Subject Theory assumes that individuals increasingly construct themselves through the market and in a multi-faceted way, due to processes such as commercialization, flexibilization and acceleration. From that perspective, volatile participants attempt to mobilize an idealized Self but are unable to do so persistently, due to the structural constraints (such as lack of time resources) and personal liberties (such as excess of consumer options) that define everyday life in late-modern society. The result are figurations of utopia that are bound to fail, but repeated ever again. These ‘refigurations’ maintain a political ele-ment through conveying a critique of and an alternative to the status quo, if only for a moment.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Collective alternative everyday practices; refigurative politics; prefigurative politics; new social movement theory; late-modern society; postpolitics
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2020 14:17
Last Modified: 26 May 2021 10:34
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