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Experimental Utopias and Social Change:
Examples from Australian Non- Hegemonic Activism
Dr Theresa Petray, James Cook Uni...
Background
• Social movement studies:
• Traditionally recognised distinction between integrationism & radicalism
• Integra...
Background
• Non-hegemonic: movements which are not directed at power
structures
• Do not seek universal or totalizing cha...
Theoretical Framework
Constitutional Recognition
• Integrationist – inclusion of Aboriginal & Torres Strait
Islander peoples in the Australian C...
Non-hegemonic –
• ‘Certainly Constitutional recognition doesn’t mean much to people
taking action to emancipate themselves...
Live Export
• Integrationist – chilled meat in place of live
animals.
• 69% of Australians support the campaign.
• Animal ...
Non-Hegemonic – Vegan Advocacy
• Reject all slaughter, create
alternatives.
• Withdrawing rather than
challenging = less o...
Conclusions
• Diversity of approaches = strong social
movements
• Non-hegemonic experimental alternatives
can provide mean...
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Experimental Utopias and Social Change: Examples from Australian Non-Hegemonic Activism by Dr Theresa Petray and Dr Nick Pendergrast

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Audio for this talk: https://archive.org/details/NonHegemonic

Abstract:
Social movements are typically considered either incremental or antisystemic, or in other words, reformist or revolutionary. Both of these approaches are focused on the state or other significant power-holders. However, a third approach to social change does not attempt to change society as a whole, but instead imagines an alternative society, and begins to experiment with those alternatives. We look at examples from Australia to think through some of the key issues surrounding non-hegemonic activism. In particular, we use cases from animal advocacy and indigenous activism to contextualise the concept of non-hegemonic activism in Australia. Vegan activism and self-determination activism are both attempts to create change without directly challenging power structures – but by their very existence they do question whether mainstream society is, in fact, successful. These broad movements contain elements of both state-centric and non-hegemonic activism, and we unpack the experimental utopias that activists are attempting to bring about.

Contacts:
theresa.petray@jcu.edu.au
nicholas.pendergrast@unimelb.edu.au

This talk was recorded at The Australian Sociological Association 2016 conference. You can hear more talks from this conference here: https://soundcloud.com/australian-sociology-tasa

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Experimental Utopias and Social Change: Examples from Australian Non-Hegemonic Activism by Dr Theresa Petray and Dr Nick Pendergrast

  1. 1. Experimental Utopias and Social Change: Examples from Australian Non- Hegemonic Activism Dr Theresa Petray, James Cook University Dr Nick Pendergrast, Deakin University
  2. 2. Background • Social movement studies: • Traditionally recognised distinction between integrationism & radicalism • Integrationism: social movements which seek small, incremental changes to the existing social structures • Antisystemic: social movements which seek to replace the existing system entirely • Both are still oriented towards power holders like states
  3. 3. Background • Non-hegemonic: movements which are not directed at power structures • Do not seek universal or totalizing change • Create alternatives to the existing structures instead of replacing or reforming the existing structure • Small-scale experiments in alternative societies (Wallerstein 2002) • Refusal of universalization as a concept (Day 2004, Coulthard 2014) • Co-exist with structures, but eventually ‘render them redundant’ (Graeber 2004)
  4. 4. Theoretical Framework
  5. 5. Constitutional Recognition • Integrationist – inclusion of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. • A chance to begin correcting past injustices • Good for health & wellbeing of Indigenous & non-Indigenous Australians • Antisystemic – treaties with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander nations. • Do not want to be part of a Constitution based on racism & dispossession • An act of refusal which posits sovereignty of Indigenous nations
  6. 6. Non-hegemonic – • ‘Certainly Constitutional recognition doesn’t mean much to people taking action to emancipate themselves from Australian laws’ (Liddle 2014). • Creating spaces where self-determination can be exercised • (Not necessarily opposed to Constitutional Recognition or Treaties) • Not about replacing an Australia-wide power structure: culturally specific • Examples: Gugu Badhun Research Institute, decision-making about potential dam Self-determination & Nation-building
  7. 7. Live Export • Integrationist – chilled meat in place of live animals. • 69% of Australians support the campaign. • Animal welfare, humane slaughter (93% of Australians support). • Anti-systemic – direct action. • 2003: Ralph Hahnheuser placed processed pig flesh into the feed of sheep bound for the Middle East = not Halal. • Crossover between integrationist and anti- systemic activism. • ALF - activists pose more of a threat to the financial and physical well-being of its targets than other approaches.
  8. 8. Non-Hegemonic – Vegan Advocacy • Reject all slaughter, create alternatives. • Withdrawing rather than challenging = less of a threat than direct action, even welfare reforms. • Vegans challenge these industries by rendering them redundant on an individual level, and imaging a society where they are no longer needed or desired.
  9. 9. Conclusions • Diversity of approaches = strong social movements • Non-hegemonic experimental alternatives can provide meaningful examples of change • Non-hegemonic approaches might be incremental, and might seem similar to integrationist approaches, but closer analysis reveals a difference based on orientation to power structures

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