Rhetoric of Social Movements

R340 — Spring 2018

Ballantine Hall 307
Days and Times
11:15-12:30 TR
Course Description

Social movements have not always seen changes in the law as the goal of their work. For instance, sometimes social movements abandon efforts to change the law and simply communicate to transform common beliefs and values. For some movements, however, the law is an important site of communication and action. This course will compare the tactics of several movements to see how their approach to the law influences their rhetoric. In the process, we will look at the variety of relationships movements have with the law. For instance, strategically breaking the law, in the form of civil disobedience, is a long-standing tactic of social movements all over the world. Sometimes movements use legal concepts such as rights to argue that the protections of the law be extended to new classes of persons. Other movements argue that the law is a tool of domination and seek to create alternative organizational structures. We will compare these approaches through several case studies, which may include the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., environmentalism, Argentinian worker cooperatives, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter. Instructor: Freya Thimsen

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