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Cover Poverty and Development

24. Identity Politics and Clashing Cultures  

Tom Kirk, Tim Allen, and John Eade

This chapter explores the rise of identity-based explanations for domestic politics and international conflicts in the 1990s, before turning to the War on Terror and its affects. An influential view of the current global situation is that there is a clash of civilizations or cultures, especially between Islam and the West. This idea has been reinforced by terrorist atrocities in the United States and elsewhere, and by the so-called War on Terror. Conceptualizing cultures as in conflict has origins in older ideas about nationalism and ethnicity, which have had a tendency to absorb or euphemize racist attitudes to outsiders. Several well-known scholars have been scathing about the clash of civilizations thesis, but there is no doubt that the argument has profoundly affected national and international agendas, and helps explain the rise of morally populist, nationalistic, and isolationist policies in many countries. The clash of civilizations also relates more specifically to concerns in the US about its position in the world, and its declining capacity to shape global agendas.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the Developing World

11. Social Movements and Alternative Politics  

Siri Gloppen

This chapter examines how social movements in the developing world and ‘bottom-up’ alternative politics, supported by new technology and globalized networks, can strengthen democracy. It first traces the origins of social movements, showing how different forms of social movements have emerged and been influential during different periods, before discussing the main theoretical perspectives about why this is so and how we should understand this phenomenon. It then considers past and present social movements and alternative politics in the developing world, focusing on three categories: movements concerned with democracy and governance, movements concerned with identity politics, and movements concerned with social justice. It also describes the increasing globalization of social movements and explains what makes such movements successful.