The Geographies of Social Movements



This article aims to provide a review of how geographical concepts can help us better understand the development and effects of social movements. Geographers have been rather slow to analyze the specific processes and mechanisms that make it possible for people to cooperate and engage in sustained political struggles with rich and powerful adversaries. Not only has this inattention to social movements deprived the discipline of robust conceptual tools for analyzing contentious politics, it has also limited the discipline's abilities to contend with broader theoretical issues concerning collective action and agency in the political arena. Recent research into social movements has begun to fill this void. The article maintains that the most fruitful strategy for conceptualizing the geographical underpinnings of social movements would be to examine how issues of space, scale, and place affect the processes already identified in the established sociological and political science literature on social movements.