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Local Community Organizers and Activists Encountering Globalization: An Exploratory Study of their Perceptions and Adaptations


Brian D. Christens, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706. Tel: 608–265-9169/608–265-1171 (fax) [e-mail:].


Globalization processes are putting pressure on traditional modes of democratic social action and rendering some ineffective. How does grassroots activists’ knowledge of globalization influence their strategies for working toward community change? This article draws on a qualitative analysis of 24 in-depth interviews with activists and community organizers in the Midwestern United States to identify their perspectives on globalization, the local impacts and challenges that globalization creates, and the strategic adaptations of models for community organizing and local activism in the contemporary global era. We found that most organizers and activists are critically aware of globalization processes and the difficulties these dynamics pose for their communities. Further, they often view their locally focused work as a direct response to the demands of globalization. The findings offer a counterpoint to depictions of local social action as myopic or irrelevant for the global era.