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date: 24 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Most social movement research privileges the state as the main, if not the sole arena where social movement contestation takes place. By drawing from work in political sociology, international relations, and political economy of the world system, scholars can improve understandings of the ways political conflicts are embedded in extra-local contexts. This essay clarifies some assumptions embedded in state-centric approaches and explores ideas at the borders of social movement scholarship and related fields about how the world beyond states impacts conflicts on local, national, and global scales. Having engaged the interstate arena in unprecedented ways during the 1990s, many activist groups saw more clearly this system’s limited capacities for responding to deepening global crises. The early twenty-first century thus saw a growth in transnational social movement activity outside the interstate arena. This encourages us to re-think relationships between social movements and not just the state, but also the interstate system itself.

Keywords: Transnational activism, interstate politics, academic disciplines, constructivism, United Nations, corporate globalization, world-systems analysis, World Social Forums

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