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New Social Movements: Challenging the Boundaries of Institutional Politics

Author(s): CLAUS OFFE


Source: Social Research, Vol. 52, No. 4, Social Movements (WINTER 1985), pp. 817-868
Published by: The New School
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New Social
Movements:
Challengingthe
Boundaries of
Institutional ,
Politics* / BY CLAUS OFFE

jcYmong politicalsociologists who ana-


and politicalscientists
lyze the changing structuresand dynamics of West European
politics,itbecamecommonplacein theseventiesto observethe
fusionof politicaland nonpoliticalspheresof sociallife.The
continuedanalyticalusefulnessof theconventional dichotomy
of "state"and "civilsociety"was questioned.Processesof fu-
sion could be observed not only on the level of global
sociopoliticalarrangements,but also on thelevelof citizensas
the elementarypoliticalactors. The dividingline that de-
lineates"political"concernsand modes of actionfrom"pri-
vate" (e.g., moralor economicones) was becomingblurred.
We see thecontoursof a ratherdramaticmodelof political
developmentof advancedWesternsocieties:as publicpolicies
win a more direct and more visibleimpact upon citizens,
citizensin turntryto win a more immediateand morecom-
prehensivecontrolover politicalelitesby meansthatare seen
frequentlyto be incompatiblewiththe maintenanceof the
institutional order of the polity.Since the midseventies, a
numberof mostlyconservativeanalystshave describedthis
cycle as highlyvicious and dangerous,one which,in their
view,mustlead to a cumulativeerosionof politicalauthority
SOCIAL RESEARCH, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Winter1985)

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818 SOCIAL RESEARCH

and eventhecapacityto govern,1 unlesseffectivemeasuresare


takenthatfreethe economyfromoverlydetailedand ambi-
tious politicalintervention and thatimmunizepoliticalelites
fromthe pressures,concerns,and actionsof citizens.The
proposedsolution,in otherwords,is a restrictive redefinition
of what can and should be considered"political,"and the
correspondingeliminationfromthe agenda of governments
of all issues,practices,demands,and responsibilities thatare
definedas being"outside"the propersphereof politics.This
is the neoconservative projectof insulatingthe politicalfrom
the nonpolitical.
Central to this project is the image of a breakdownor
"implosion"of the autonomyand authorityof nonpolitical
institutional spheres and hence their increasingdependence
upon politicalsupportand regulation.In thissense,it can in
factbe argued thatthe "autonomous"culturaland structural
foundationsof aestheticproduction,of scienceand technol-
ogy,of the family,religion,and the labor markethave been
eroded and are contestedto such an extentthat only the
politicalprovisionof rulesand resourcescan keep thesevari-
ous subsystems of "civilsociety"alive. But, accordingto the
neoconservative analysis,the extendedreachof publicpolicy,
of statecontrol,support,and regulation,intoformerly more
independentareas of sociallifeis,ratherparadoxically, botha
gain and a loss of state a
authority: gain in thatmore variables
and parametersof civilsocietycan and mustbe manipulated,
but also a loss, because there are fewernonpolitical - and
-
hence uncontestedand noncontroversialfoundationsof ac-
tionto whichclaimscan be referredor fromwhichmetapoliti-
cal (in the sense of "natural"or "given")premisesforpolitics
can be derived.As thefunctions of thestate
and responsibilities
expand, its authority (i.e., its capacityto make bindingdeci-
sions) is debased; for politicalauthority can be stableonlyas
longas it is limited,and thuscomplemented byself-sustaining
1 S. P.
Huntington,"The United States,"in M. Crozier et al., The CrisisofDemocracy
(New York: New York UniversityPress, 1975).

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 819

nonpoliticalspheresof actionwhichserveboth to exonerate


politicalauthorityand to provideit withsourcesof legitimacy.
This dilemmacan be illustrated byreferring to suchnonpoliti-
cal institutional
spheresas the family, market,and science.
the
As soon as theseinstitutions lose theirindependencevis-à-vis
the political,and functionaccordingto some politically deter-
mined design, the repercussionsof such politicizationwill
mostof all affectpoliticalauthorityitself.Ratherthangrowing
strongerby greater"comprehensiveness," politicalauthority
subvertsits nonpoliticalunderpinnings,which appear in-
creasingly as mereartifacts of the politicalprocessitself.It is
this evaporationof uncontestedand noncontingent premises(both
structuraland evaluative) of politics that the neoconservative
projectis tryingto revertin a sometimesdesperatesearchfor
nonpolitical foundations of orderand stability.
Whattherefore
is needed, accordingto the neoconservative project,is the
restoration of uncontestable standardsof an economic,moral,
or cognitivenature.As a consequence,the conceptof politics
turnsreflexive;politicscenterson thequestionof whatpolitics
is about- and what it is not about. The projectaims at a
restrictiveredefinitionof politics,the counterpartof whichis
looked forin the market,the family,or science.This search
for the unpoliticalis hoped to lead to a narrowerand more
viableconceptof politics,one that"reprivatizes"thoseconflicts
and issuesthatare not to be dealt withproperlyby meansof
publicauthority.
In spiteof theirobviouspoliticaloppositionto the content
of the neoconservative project,the politicsof the new social
movementsshares an importantanalyticalinsightwith the
proponentsof thisproject.This insightis the following:The
conflictsand contradictions of advancedindustrialsocietycan
no longer be resolved in meaningfuland promisingways
throughetatism,politicalregulation,and the proliferating in-
clusion of ever more claims and issues on the agenda of
bureaucraticauthorities. It is onlyafterthissharedanalytical
premisethat neoconservative politicsand movementpolitics

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820 SOCIAL RESEARCH

divergein oppositepoliticaldirections.Whereasthe neocon-


servativeprojectseeks to restore the nonpolitical,noncontin-
gent,and uncontestablefoundationsof civilsociety(such as
property, themarket,theworkethic,thefamily, and scientific
-
truth)in order to safeguarda more restrictedand therefore
more solid- sphere of stateauthorityand no longer "over-
loaded" politicalinstitutions,the politicsof new social move-
ments,by contrast, seeks to politicizethe institutions of civil
societyin waysthat are not constrainedby the channelsof
representative-bureaucratic politicalinstitutions, and thereby
a civilsocietythatis no longerdependentupon
to reconstitute
ever more regulation,control,and intervention. In order to
-
emancipateitselffromthe state,civilsocietyitself itsinstitu-
tionsof work,production,distribution, familyrelations,rela-
tions with nature, its very standards of rationalityand
progress - mustbe politicizedthroughpracticesthatbelongto
an intermediate sphere between"private"pursuitsand con-
cerns, on the one side, and institutional, state-sanctioned
modes of politics,on the other.
The "new politics"of the new social movementscan be
analyzed,as can any otherpolitics,in termsof itssocialbase,
its issues,concerns,and values,and its modes of action.In
orderto do so, I willemploythe term"politicalparadigm."2
The followingagenda suggests itself: First, the "old"
paradigmthathas been dominantthroughout the post-World
War II era will be described,focusingon its four principal
components(values,issues,actors,institutional practices).Sec-
ond, the new paradigm will be discussed in the same
categories.Third,the questionwillbe addressedhow the rise
2 The term
"political paradigm"- as I borrow and redefine it from J. Raschke,
"Politikund Wertwandelin den westlichenDemokratien,"Aus PolitikundZeitgeschichte,
no. 36 (1980): 23-45, and K. W. Brand et al., Protestbewegungen in derBundesrepublik
(Frankfurt:Campus, 1983)- refersto a comprehensivemodel of what politicsis about.
A politicalparadigm provides answers to interrelatedquestions such as: (1) What are
the principalvalues and issues of collectiveaction? (2) Who are the actors,and what is
their mode of becoming collectiveactors? (3) What are the appropriate procedures,
tactics,and institutionalforms through which the conflictis to be carried out?

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 821
of the new paradigmcan be explained,and what kind of
evidenceis providedby analystswho have undertakensuch
partiallyconflictingexplanations.Here we also wantto con-
sider why it is justifiedto speak of "new" (ratherthan a
revivedformof old) politicalcleavagesthatwe are dealing
with.Finally,some speculationsare offeredconcerningwhich
modes of resolutionof thisconflictabout the proper space,
focus,or arena of the politicalare conceivable,and whatthe
likelyoutcomesof such resolutioncould be.

The Old Paradigm

The core itemson the agenda of WestEuropeanpoliticsin


the period fromthe immediatepostwaryearsuntilthe early
seventieswere issues of economicgrowth,distribution, and
security.These central concerns of "old politics"3were re-
flectedon thelevelof surveydata on "whatpeople believeare
themostimportant issuesfacingsociety."Whileissuesof state-
and nation-building continuedto play a subordinaterole in
Germanpoliticsin connectionwith"reunification" claimsand
variousEast-Westconflicts concerning the statusof WestBer-
lin, these remnantsfroman earlierpoliticalagenda mustbe
consideredas somethingparticularto Germanpoliticsof the
postwarera,as weretheissuesof decolonization in theFrench
and Britishpolities.Whilesuch issuesof theunity,limits,and
redefinitionof national sovereigntyand national territory
playeda minorrole in thesecountries,conflicts over thecon-
stitutionaland legalorderof nationalsocietieswereevenmore
conspicuously absent.The social,economic,and politicalorder
thatwas adopted in the late fortiesand earlyfifties was built
upon a highlyencompassingliberal-democratic welfare-state
consensus that remained unchallengedby any significant
forceson eitherthe politicalRightor Left.Not onlywas this
:i K. L. Baker et al., Political Cultureand the New Politics
GermanyTransformed:
(Cambridge:HarvardUniversity
Press,1981),pp. 136 ff.

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822 SOCIAL RESEARCH

constitutionalaccordfirmly based in a broad"posttotalitarian"


consensus, but it was also activelyenforcedand sanctionedby
the international configuration of forcesthatemergedafter
WorldWar II.
This is true at least of threecentralelementsof the con-
stitutionalpostwaraccords,all of whichwere adopted,jus-
tified,and defendedin termsof theirconduciveness to growth
and security.First,and regardlessof some marginalelements
of consultations,indicativeplanning,codetermination, and
nationalization, investmentdecisionswere institutedas the
space of action of ownersand managersactingin freemarkets
and accordingto criteriaof profitability; this freedomof
property and investment had been overwhelmingly advocated
and justifiednot in termsof moral philosophyand natural
rightbutin the "functional" termsof a growthand efficiency
thatno alternative arrangement was thoughtto be capable of
to a
accomplishing comparable extent. Second,capitalismas a
growthmachinewas complementedby organizedlabor as a
distributionand social-security machine.It is onlythebasisof a
prevalentconcernwithgrowthand real incomethatboththe
preparednessof organizedlaborto giveup morefar-reaching
projectsof societalchangein exchangefora firmly established
statusin theprocessof incomedistribution and theprepared-
nessof investors to grantsuch statusto organizedlaborcan be
explained. On both sides,the underlying viewof societywas
thatof a "positivesum" societyin whichgrowthis bothcon-
tinuouslypossible(so as to makethestrongpositionof unions
in distributive conflictstolerableto capital) and considered
as
generally satisfying and desirable(so as to make "system-
loyal"unionsand socialistparties - specializingin the taskof
channelinggrowthdividendsback to the workersratherthan
pursuing goals of changing the "mode of production" -
acceptableto workers).The thirdmostimportantelementof
the constitutional design of the postwarperiod (adopted,as
were some of the other two,in the Germancase fromthe
WeimarRepublic)was a formof politicaldemocracythatwas

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 823

representative and mediatedthroughpartycompetition. Such


an arrangement was well suitedto limitthe amount of con-
flictsthatweretransferred fromthesphereof civilsocietyinto
thearenaof publicpolicy,especiallywheretherewas,as in the
German case, a far-reaching organizationaldisjunctionbe-
tweencollectiveactorsand bearersofsocietalinterests (suchas
unions,employers, churches,etc.) and politicalpartiesconcen-
tratingon theirobjectiveof winningvotesand obtainingposi-
tionsin parliament and government accordingto themodelof
the "catch-allparty."4
The implicitsociologicalassumptionunderlyingthe con-
stitutionalarrangements of the liberalwelfarestatewas that
"privatistic,"family-,work-,and consumption-centered pat-
ternsof lifewouldabsorbtheenergiesand aspirationsof most
people,and thatparticipation in and conflictover publicpol-
icy would for that reason be of no more than marginal
significance in the lives of mostcitizens.This constitutional
definitionof the respectivespaces of action of capital and
labor, of the state and civil society,was a correlateof the
centralityof thevaluesof growth,prosperity, and distribution.
The dynamicforceof the political-economic systemwas in-
dustrialproductionand productivity-increasing innovation,
and the task that remainedfor public policywas to create
securityand thus the conditionsunder whichthis dynamic
processcould continueto operate.
Since the fifties,"security"has been the termmostoften
used in electoralcampaignsand slogansbybothmajorparties
in WestGermany.It has threeimportant aspects.First,secur-
ityrefersto the welfare state,thatis, to theissuesof providing
an adequate incomeand standardof livingforall citizensand
protecting themin cases of illnessor unemployment, old age,
and need. Second,itrefersto military strategy the
and defense,
issues of maintainingpeace in the international system and
preventingmilitary crisisthroughinternational organization,
4 O. Kirchheimer.

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824 SOCIAL RESEARCH

Third World-related policies,and continuousmodernization


of the defenseapparatus.Third,and overlappingpartlywith
thefirstand secondaspectsof itsmeaning,security involvesa
socialcontrol aspect,as it concerns the issues of dealing with
and preventingall sortsof "deviant"behavior(includingill-
ness as devianceof one's own body),especiallyas its conse-
quences mightaffectthe viability of the familyand the legal,
economic,and politicalorderand one's abilityto participatein
theseinstitutions.
The two postwardecades in whichthe paradigmof "old
politics,"or theparadigmof a comprehensive growth-security
alliance,was dominantwere,of course,nota perioddevoidof
social and politicalconflict.But it was a period in whicha
remarkablyundisputed,society-wideagreementwas estab-
lished about the "interests," and thus the issues,actors,and
institutionalmodes of the resolutionof conflict.Overalleco-
nomicgrowth,advancesin individualand collectivedistribu-
tionalpositions,and legal protectionof social statuswere the
centralconcerns.Specialized,comprehensive, and highlyin-
stitutionalizedinterestorganizations and politicalpartieswere
the dominantcollectiveactors. Collectivebargaining,party
competition, and representative partygovernmentwere the
virtuallyexclusive mechanisms of the resolutionof socialand
politicalconflict.All of thiswas endorsedby a "civicculture"
whichemphasizedthe values of social mobility, privatelife,
consumption, instrumental rationality,authority, and order
and whichdeemphasizedpoliticalparticipation.The domi-
nance of theseissues,actors,and institutional modes of con-
flictresolutionis highlightedby the absence (or, rather,the
rapid eliminationin the fifties)of cross-cutting issues,alter-
nativemodes of conflictresolution,or collectiveactors not
easilyaccommodatedwithinthe growth-security framework.
By the end of the fifties,the issues and proponentsof so-
cialism,neutralism, nationalunity,citizenship, and economic
democracy were reduced to virtual insignificance.Not only
the "end of ideology"thesisimportedfromAmericansocial

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 825

science,but even diagnosesamountingto an "end of political


were acclaimedwidelyas plausiblesociologicalin-
conflict"5
terpretations reality.And the partlyreaction-
of sociopolitical
ary, partlyintellectual-progressivecritiqueof the values of
consumersociety,failedto make any impactupon the Solid
culturalfoundationsof postwarand posttotalitarian welfare
capitalism.

TheNew Paradigm

This briefaccountof the configuration of values, actors,


issues,and institutionsof the "old politics"may provideus
witha backgroundagainstwhichthe"newparadigm"can now
be compared.One of the fewattemptsto inventa substantive
conceptforthis"new"paradigmhas been made by Raschke,6
who speaks of an emerging Paradigma der Lebensweise
(paradigmof "wayof life"or "mode of life").The majorpart
of thesocial-scientific
literaturedealingwithnewconcernsand
movementssimplyemphasizesruptureand discontinuity, by
using termslike "new protestmovements,"7 "new politics,"8
"new populism,"9"neoromanticism,"10 "unor-
"antipolitics,"11
thodox politicalbehavior"and "disorderlypolitics,"12 or it
describesthe meansby whichconflictis typically carriedout

5 H. Zivilisation(Opladen: West-
Schelsky, Der Mensch in der wissenschaftlichen
deutscherVerlag,1961).
6 Raschke,"Politikund Wertwandel."
7 K. W. Brand,NeuesozialeBewegungen (Opladen: WestdeutscherVerlag,1982).
8 K. Hildebrandtand R. J. Dalton,"Die neue Politik,"
Politische 18
Vierteljahresschrift
(1977).
9
J. Habermas, Strukturwandel
derÖffentlichkeit: übereineKategorieder
Untersuchungen
bürgerlichen
Gesellschaft 1962); B. Marin,"NeuerPopulismus
(Neuwied:Luchterhand,
und 'Wirtschaftspartnerschaft',"
Österreichische
Zeitschrift 9 (1980):
für Politikwissenschaft
157-170.
10U. Schimank, Neoromantischer Protestim Spätkapitalismus:
Der Widerstandgegen
Stadt-und Landschaftsverödung
(Bielefeld: AJZ, 1983).
11S. Berger,"Politicsand Anti-Politics
in WesternEurope in the Seventies,"
Daedalus108 (1979): 27-50.
12A. Marsh, Protestand PoliticalConsciousness
(London: Sage, 1977).;

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826 SOCIAL RESEARCH

withinthepoliticsof thenewparadigmas "unconventional."13


The most encompassing,though still less than all-inclusive
label by whichactivistsof these movementsthemselvesrefer
to the "new politics"is the term "alternativemovements,"
whichis equallyvoidof positivecontent,as is thecase withthe
relatedterms"counter-economy," and
"counter-institutions,"
.
"counter-public"{Gegenqffentlichkeit)
The new movementspoliticizethemeswhichcannoteasily
be "coded" withinthe binarycode of the universeof social
action thatunderliesliberalpoliticaltheory.That is to say,
whereliberaltheoryassumesthatall actioncan be categorized
as either"private"or "public"(and, in the lattercase, right-
fully"political"),the new movementslocate themselvesin a
third,intermediate category.They claim a typeof issue for
themselves, one thatis neither"private"(in thesenseof being
of no legitimate concernto others)nor "public"(in the sense
of beingrecognizedas thelegitimate objectof officialpolitical
institutionsand actors),butwhichconsistsin collectively "rele-
vant"resultsand side effectsof eitherprivateor institutional-
politicalactorsforwhichtheseactors,however,cannotbe held
responsibleor made responsiveby availablelegal or institu-
tionalmeans.The space of actionof the new movements is a
space of noninstitutional which
politics is not providedfor in the
doctrinesand practicesof liberaldemocracyand the welfare
state.
This raises a conceptualproblem:What do we mean by
noninstitutional in contrastto "private"modes of ac-
politics,
tion?Precisionin thisrespectappears particularly relevantas
theterm"newsocialmovements" is oftenused in a waywhich
wouldalso includeprivateconcernsòf, forinstance,religious
or economickinds.A minimumrequirementfor using the
word "political"for some mode of action is that the actor
makes some explicitclaim that the meansof action can be
recognizedas legitimateand the endsof action can become
13Kaase.

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 827

bindingfor the wider community.Only those social move-


mentsthat share these two characteristics have a political
qualityand willtherefore interestus here.This is notthecase
withtwo interesting limitingcases, representedby new reli-
gious sectsand by terrorism, respectively.These distinctions
in
are illustrated Figure 1. On the levelof means,purelysocial
movements (e.g., sects,movementspropagatingsome specific
culturallife-styles,traditions,or practices)make use of per-
fectlylegitimateand recognizedformsof action,such as the
legallyguaranteedfreedomof religiouspracticeand cultural
freedom.On the levelof ends,theydo not intendto winthe
recognition of theirspecificvaluesand concernsas bindingfor
the widercommunity but simplyclaimto be allowedto enjoy
theirrightsand freedoms.Even in the case of a diametric
oppositionbetweentheirculturalvaluesand formsof lifeand
thoseof the widercommunity, theydo not attemptto over-
throwthe latterbut to retreatto privatespaces wheretheir
stylescan be practiced,as is thecase in manyruralcommunes.
There is no attemptto use theserightsforcollectively binding
purposes.
The reciprocalconfiguration is the one we findin terrorist
groups.The violentmeanstheyuse are in no sense expected
to be recognizedas legitimate and rightful by the widercom-
munity.That is at leastthe case withgroupssuch as the Rote
Armee Fraktion(RAF) in West Germanyand the Brigate

Figure 1. Schema of Forms of Noninstitutional Action

^^^-^^^ ends not binding for wider binding


-
means/actors communityif accomplished
^.^
not recognized
by political "private crime" "terrorism"
communityas
legitimate 1 2
recognized sociocultural movements "sociopolitical
as legitimate advocating religious movements"
etc. practices; "retreat"
J 3 I 4

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828 SOCIAL RESEARCH

Rosse (BR) in Italywhich,interestingly, withthe possibleex-


ception of theirinitial phases, have givenup any attemptto
establishthemselves as "political"actorsand to winrecognition
of theirmeansof actionas legitimate by a widercommunity.
On the otherside,theirobjectivesare quite conventionally (if
absurdly and unrealistically) "political"in that theyconsist,in
the cases mentioned,in victoryin an anti-imperialist revo-
lutionarywar, the outcomes of which would be
clearly binding
upon the entire community in quite an elementary way. In
contradistinctionto thesetwo phenomenaof the nonpolitical
retreatintoprivateconcernsand privatewar,politically rele-
vant new social movementscan be defined as those move-
mentsthatdo makea claimto be recognizedas politicalactors
by the widercommunity - althoughtheirformsof actiondo
not enjoy the legitimacyconferredby establishedpolitical
- and who aim at objectives,the achievementof
institutions
whichwouldhave bindingeffectsforsocietyas a wholerather
thanjust for the group itself.
Throughoutthefollowing discussion,I willfocuson fourof
thesemovements whichappear to be the mostimportant ones
as measuredbytheirqualitativemobilization successas wellas
theirmanifestpoliticalimpact.These are the ecologyor envi-
ronmentalmovements, includingconcernshavingto do not
onlywiththe naturalbut also withthe built(urban)environ-
ment;human rightsmovements,mostimportantly the fem-
inist movement,fightingfor the protectionof the identity
and dignityand for equitabletreatment of thosedefinedby
gender,age, race, language,and region;pacifismand peace
movements; and movements advocatingor engagingin "alter-
native"or "communal"modesof theproductionand distribu-
tion of goods and services.Let us firstexplore some ideal-
typicalcommon characteristics of these movements;these
are evidentin the movements'issues,values,
characteristics
modesof action,and actors.
Dominantissuesof new socialmovements consistin thecon-
space of action,or "life-world,"
cernwitha (physical)territory,

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 829

such as the body,health,and sexual identity;the neighbor-


hood, city,and thephysicalenvironment; thecultural,ethnic,
national,and linguisticheritageand identity;the physical
conditionsof life,and survivalfor humankindin general.
Diverseand incoherentas theseissuesand concernsappear
to be, theyhave a commonrootin certainvalues which,as I
willargue later,are not in themselves"new"but are givena
different emphasisand urgencywithinthe new social move-
ments.Mostprominent amongthesevaluesare autonomyand
identity(withtheirorganizationalcorrelatessuch as decen-
tralization, self-government,and self-help)and oppositionto
manipulation,control,dependence,bureaucratization, regu-
lation, etc.
A thirdelementof thenewparadigmis themodeofactionof
new socialmovements. This typicallyinvolvestwoaspects:the
modebywhichindividualsacttogetherin orderto constitute a
collectivity ("internalmode of action") and the methods by
which theyconfrontthe externalworld and theirpolitical
opponents("externalmode of action").The firstis already
referredto bythetermsocialmovements; themode bywhich
multitudesof individualsbecome collectiveactors is highly
informal, ad hoc,discontinuous, context-sensitive,and egalita-
rian. In other words,while there are at best rudimentary
membership roles,programs,platforms, offi-
representatives,
and
cials,staffs, membership dues, the new socialmovements
consistof participants, campaigns,spokespeople,networks,
voluntaryhelpers,and donations.Typically,in theirinternal
mode of action,new socialmovements do notrely,in contrast
to traditionalformsof politicalorganization,on the organi-
zationalprincipleof differentiation, whetherin the horizontal
vs. in
(insider outsider)or the verticaldimension(leadersvs.
rankand filemembers).To the contrary, thereseemsto be a
strong reliance that
upon de-differentiation, is, the fusionof
publicand privateroles,instrumental and expressivebehav-
and
ior,community organization, and in particulara poor and
at besttransient demarcationbetweenthe rolesof "members"

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830 SOCIAL RESEARCH

and formal"leaders."Concerningtheexternalmodeof action,


we finddemonstration tacticsand otherformsof actionmak-
inguse of thephysicalpresenceof (largenumbersof) people.
These protesttacticsare intendedto mobilizepublicattention
by (mostly)legal though"unconventional" means. They are
paralleledby protest demands whose positiveaspectsare ar-
ticulatedmostlyin negativelogicaland grammatical forms,as
indicatedby key words such as "never,""nowhere,""end,"
"stop," "freeze,""ban," etc. Protesttacticsand protestde-
mands indicatethat the (actuallyor potentially)mobilized
group of actors conceivesof itselfas an ad-hoc and often
single-issueveto alliance (ratherthan an organizationally or
even ideologically integratedgroup) which leaves ample room
for a wide varietyof legitimations and beliefsamong the
protesters. This mode of actionalso emphasizestheprincipled
and nonnegotiable natureof concerns,whichcan be seen as a
virtue as well as somethingnecessitatedby the relatively
primitive organizationalstructures involved.
Social movements relateto otherpoliticalactorsand oppo-
nentsnot in termsof negotiations, compromise,reform,im-
or
provement, gradualprogress to be broughtaboutbyorga-
nized pressuresand tacticsbut, rather,in termsof sharp
antinomiessuch as yes/no,them/us,the desirableand the
intolerable, victoryand defeat,nowor never,etc.Such a logic
of thresholds, obviously, hardlyallowsforpracticesof political
exchangeor gradualisttactics.
Movementsare incapableof negotiating becausetheydo not
have anythingto offerin returnforany concessionsmade to
their demands. They cannot promise,for instance,lower
levelsof energyconsumption in returnforthediscontinuation
of nuclearenergyprojectsin the waytradeunionscan prom-
ise (or at least practice)wage restraint in returnforemploy-
mentguarantees.This is due to the movements' lack of some
of the propertiesof formalorganizations, mostimportantly
the internalbindingnessof representative decisionsby virtue
of whichformalorganizationscan make sure to some extent

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 831

thatthe termsof a politicaldeal willbe honored.They also


typically lack a coherentset of ideologicalprinciplesand in-
terpretations of theworldfromwhichan imageof a desirable
arrangement of societycould be derivedand thestepstoward
transformation could be deduced. Onlyifsucha theoryabout
the world and its own role in changingthe world- were
-
availableto the movements,a practiceof exchanginglong-
termgains forshort-term losses,a practiceof tacticalration-
ality and alliance formation could be expected fromthese
politicalactors.Movementsare also unwilling to negotiatebe-
cause theyoftenconsidertheircentralconcernof such high
and universalpriority thatno part of it can be meaningfully
sacrificed(e.g., in issueslinkedto the values of "survival"or
"identity") withoutnegatingthe concernitself.
Finally,concerningtheactorsof the new social movements,
the most strikingaspect is that they do not rely for their
self-identification on either the establishedpoliticalcodes
(left/right,liberal/conservative, etc.) nor on the partlycorre-
sponding socioeconomic codes (such as workingclass/middle
class, poor/wealthy, rural/urbanpopulation,etc.). The uni-
verse of politicalconflictis rathercoded in categoriestaken
fromthemovements' issues,such as gender,age, locality,etc.,
or, in the case of environmental and pacifistmovements, the
human race as a whole.To be sure,the insistenceupon the
irrelevanceof socioeconomiccodes (such as class) and poli-
tical codes (ideologies) that we find on the level of self-
identification of new social movements(and oftenof their
opponents), and whichis part of theirvery"newness"(and
distinguishes themfrom"old" socialmovements), byno means
implies that the social base and politicalpracticeof these
movements is infactas amorphousand heterogeneousin class
and ideologicalterms.As faras theirsocialbase is concerned,
it consists,as I willargue in moredetaillater,of threerather
sharplycircumscribed segmentsof thesocialstructure, namely
(1) the new middle class,especiallythoseelementsof it which
workin the humanserviceprofessionsand/orthe publicsec-

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832 SOCIAL RESEARCH

tor,(2) elementsof theold middleclass,and (3) a categoryof


the populationconsistingof people outsidethe labor market
or in a peripheralpositionto it (suchas unemployedworkers,
students,housewives,retiredpersons,etc.).
The new paradigmdividestheuniverseof actionintothree
spheres(privatevs. noninstitutional politicalvs. institutional
political)and claimsthe sphereof "politicalactionwithincivil
society"as itsspace, fromwhichit challengesbothprivateand
practicesand institutions.
institutional-political As we have de-
finedthe conceptof paradigmas a configuration of actors,
issues,values, and modes of actionin sociopoliticalconflict,
the old and the new paradigmscan be contrastedschemati-
callyas in Figure2.

and Agendas
ChangingSocial Structures

Muchof whatis knownabout thesocial-structural composi-


tion of the new social movementsas the bearers of the
paradigmof "new politics"suggeststhatit is rootedin major
segmentsof the new middleclass.One majorcharacteristicof

Figure 2. The Main Characteristics of the "Old" and "New" Paradigmsof Politics

"old paradigm" "new paradigm"


actors socioeconomic groups acting as socioeconomic groups acting not
groups (in the groups' interest)and as such, but on behalfof ascriptive
involved in distributiveconflict collectivities
issues economic growthand distribution; preservation of peace, environ-
militaryand social security,social ment, human rights, and un-
control alienated formsof work
values freedom and security of private personal autonomy and identity,
consumption and material prog- as opposed to centralizedcontrol,
ress etc.
modes of (a) internal: formal organization, (a) internal: informality,spon-
action large-scale representative associ- taneity,low degree of horizontal
ations and verticaldifferentiation
(b) external: pluralistor corporatist (b) external: protestpoliticsbased
interest intermediation; political on demands formulated in pre-
partycompetition,majorityrule dominantlynegative terms

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 833

this "class" is that it is, accordingto AnthonyGiddens,14


"class-aware"but not "class-conscious." That is to say: there
appear to be relatively clear structuraldeterminants of whois
likelyto supportthe causes and engage in the practicesof
"new politics"(thusa strongdeterminancy of agents),but the
demands(and thus the beneficiariesof such demands) are
highlyclass-tmspecific, dispersed,and either"universalistic" in
nature(e.g., environmental, peace, and civilrightsconcerns)
or highlyconcentrated on particulargroups(defined,forin-
stance,by locality, age, or theirbeingaffectedsituationally by
certainpractices, laws, or institutionsof thestate). New middle
classpolitics,in contrastto mostworkingclass politics,as well
as old middleclass politics,is typically a politicsofa class but
not on behalfof a class.
Structuralcharacteristics of the new middle class core of
and supportersof newsocialmovements
activists includehigh
educationalstatus,relativeeconomicsecurity(and, in particu-
lar, experienceof such securityin their"formative years"15),
and employmentin personal-service occupations.The pre-
of
ponderance people sharing these characteristicshas been
welldocumentedbothforthevarious"issuemovements" such
as the peace movement,16 the environmental movements,17
variouscivilrightsand feministmovements,18 urban citizens'
as wellas "green"coalitionsof thesemovements
initiatives, in
general.But it is also truethatin mostcases new socialmove-
mentsdo notconsistexclusively of "middleclass radicals"but
are composed,in addition,of elementsfromothergroupsanld
stratawithwhichtheytend to forma more or less stable
14A. Giddens, The Class Structure the AdvancedSocieties(London: Hutchinson,
of
1973).
15R.
Inglehart,The SilentRevolution:ChangingValuesand PoliticalStylesamongWest-
ernPublics(Princeton:PrincetonUniversity
Press,1977).
1HF. Parkin,MiddleClass Radicalism(Manchester:ManchesterUniversity Press,
1968).
17S. Cotgroveand A. Duff,"Environmentalism,Class,and Politics"(mimeo),Sci-
ence StudiesCentre,Universityof Bath,n.d.
18H. Schenk, Die in Deutsch-
150 JahreFrauenbewegung
feministische
Herausforderung:
land (Munich:Beck, 1980),pp. 108-118.

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834 SOCIAL RESEARCH

alliance. Most importantamong these other groups are (a)


"peripheral"or "decommodified"groups and (b) elements
fromthe old middleclass.
By "decommodified" groupsI mean socialcategorieswhose
membersare not (presently)defineddirectlyin theirsocial
situationby the labor marketand whosetimebudget,conse-
quently,is more flexible; examples include middle class
housewives,high school and universitystudents,retired
people,and unemployedor marginally employedyouths.One
common of
characteristic these social categoriesis thattheir
conditionsof lifeand lifechancesare shaped bydirect,highly
visibleand oftenhighlyauthoritarianand restrictive mech-
anismsof supervision, exclusion,and socialcontrol,as wellas
by theunavailabilityof even nominal"exit"options.They are
in thissense "trapped,"and thishas oftenled themto engage
in revoltsagainstthe bureaucraticor patriarchical regimeof
One furthercharacteristic
these institutions. of "peripheral"
groups (e.g., students,middle class housewives,the unem-
ployed,retiredpeople) is thattheycan affordto spend con-
siderableamountsof time on politicalactivities,something
thattheysharewiththe oftenflexibletimeschedulesof mid-
Withthese,theyalso sometimesshare
dle class professionals.
the same institutional
environment, as in the case of teachers
and theirstudents,socialworkersand theirclients,etc.19The
thirdelementthatis oftenincludedin the socialbase of new
social movementsis the "old" (i.e., independentand self-em-
ployed) middle class (such as farmers,shop owners and
artisan-producers),whoseimmediateeconomicinterests often
coincidewith(or least divergefrom)the concernsvoiced by
the protestpoliticsof new social movements.20 On the other
19It is worth noting that many of the movementsand revoltsthat have occurred
since the midsixtiesoriginated frominstitutionallocationsoutsidethe labor marketor
the firm.Examples include the patriarchalfamilyand the statuses and roles it assigns
to women, children,and youth; the universityand school systems;"total" institutions
such as prisons and armies; and the more custodial and oppressive parts of the
welfare state apparatus.
20For instance, in the antinuclear movement,the local old middle class has orten

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 835

side, the classes,strata,and groupsthatare penetratedleast


easilyby the concerns,demands,and formsof actionof the
"new"paradigmare exactlythe"principal"classesof capitalist
societies,namely,the industrialworkingclassand the holders
and agentsof economicand administrative power.
In severalsenses,itcan be said thereforethatthepatternof
socialand politicalconflictthatwe findexpressedin newsocial
movements is thepolaroppositeof themodelof classconflict.
First, the conflictis not staged by one class but by a social
alliance that consists,in varyingproportions,of elements
comingfromdifferent classesand "nonclasses."Second, it is
not a conflictbetweenthe principaleconomicagentsof the
model of productionbut an alliance that includesvirtually
everyelementbuttheseprincipalclasses.Third,the demands
are not class-specificbut ratherstronglyuniversalistic or, to
thecontrary, highlyparticularistic,and thusin anycase either
moreor less inclusiveor "categorical"than class issues.
This configuration of class forcesand class politicscan be
interpreted as theoutcomeof a longprocessof differentiation
or divergencebetweenwhatParkinhas called "workingclass
conservatism"and "middle class radicalism."21This dif-
ferentiation is the reverseside of the developmentof the
welfarestate,in whichthe workingclassas a wholeis granted
institutionalized politicaland economic representationand
some legal claim to securityand protection.But the price
that had to be paid for the accomplishment of this success
(limited,fragile,and reversibleas it remains)has generally
been the limitation of politicalgoals of workingclass move-
ments and the specialization of their organizationalforms.

joined the protestagainst the building of new power plants (H. Kitschelt,Kernenergie-
politik[Frankfurt:Campus, 1980]). Strong old middle class elements usually sup-
port regionalistmovementssuch as the occitane movement in the hope of winning
more economic subsidies from the central state (A. Touraine, Le pays contrel'état
[Paris: Seuil, 1981]). And movementsresistinglarge-scaleurban renewal find natural
allies in the local merchants,who fear that large-scalecommercialcapital will move in
as soon as citycenters have been modernized.
21Parkin, Middle Class Radicalism.

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836 SOCIAL RESEARCH

More concretely, strugglesand successesthat were won on


behalf of people as workers,employees,and recipientsof
social securitytransferswere accompaniedby a cumulative
de-emphasisof the interestsof people as citizens,as consum-
ers,as clientsof state-providedservices,and as humanbeings
in general.Accordingto some logic of politicalcompromise
and interclass accord,thebroadeningof welfarestateinclusion
is notto be had withouttheexclusionof important dimensions
of class conflictand the correspondingnarrowingof its
agenda.On theotherside,theissueareas fromwhichworking
class organizations(unions, socialist,social democratic,and
communistparties)have largelywithdrawn, and whichthey
oftenhad to abandon in the interestof theirstrugglesfor
institutionalrecognition and the materialimprovement of the
socialand economicconditionsof theircoreconstituency, tend
now to be occupied by middleclass radicalswho,again par-
tiallydue to the accomplishments of the fullydevelopedwel-
farestate,are sufficiently numerousand economically secure
to be able to affordto reemphasizesome issueson the "for-
gottenagenda" of the workingclass movementand to re-
vitalizesomeof thenoninstitutional formsof politicsthatwere
characteristicof earlierperiodsof theworkingclassmovement
itself.
Virtuallyall projectionsand speculationsabout the likely
futureof the social structureof West European democratic
welfarestatesseemto suggestthatat leasttwo(and possiblyall
three) of the componentsof the social base of the new
paradigm - namelythe new middleclass and the"peripheral"
or "decommodified" segmentsof the population - are much
more likelyto increasein numbersthan to disappear. Al-
thoughsome interesting doubtshave been raisedconcerning
the furthergrowthof personal and social servicesand the
numberof new middleclasspeople providingthem,22 thereis

22
J. Gershuny,AfterIndustrialSociety?The EmergingSelf-Service
Economy(London:
Macmillan, 1978).

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 837

stilllittleprospectthatthe majorsocialfunctions of new mid-


dle classoccupations(such as teachingand thedistribution of
information; the provisionof health services;social control
and administration) can and willbe replaced,in thesame way
as laundry serviceshave been replaced by user-operated
washingmachines.This is likelyto be so notjust forreasons
havingto do withthecomplexities of supplyingthoseservices
thatthe new middleclass supplies,but also withthe quantity
of demand forsuch services.This quantity,in turn,is deter-
minedlargelybytheshrinking capacityof thelabormarketto
organize and absorb the entire volumeof labor power.Espe-
ciallyunder conditionsof economiccrisis,more and more
people are transformedfrom "workers"into "clients"for
longerand longerperiodsof time.Thus therelativegrowthof
the "decommodified" segmentof the populationguarantees
thesocialexistenceof largepartsof the new middleclassand
possiblyeven paves the ground for new formsof political
alliancesbetweenthesetwoelements.It is perhapslessobvious
thatthethirdelementcan be expectedto be stable,as well,in
the furtherdevelopmentof social structures. This element,
whichis most reminiscent of the social base of "old" (e.g.,
populist)social movements, does, however,enjoythe interest
and supportof such diverseforcesas conservative economic
policymakers (who are aware of the factthatthe old middle
class and small businessis the only place where additional
employment is likelyto be createdin thefuture)and "alterna-
tive"or "dualist"modelsof economicreorganization bidding
farewellto theproletariat23 and observingfavorably theriseof
new formsof "self-employment."
In sum, therecan be littledoubt thatat least two of the
threeelementsof the socialbase typically supportingthe new
paradigmof politicsare risingratherthandecliningin terms
of numbersand strategicresources.This would constitute an

23A. Gorz, Adieux au


prolétariat:Au del á du Socialisme(Paris: Editions Galilée
1980).

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838 SOCIAL RESEARCH

importantdifferencebetween"new" and "old" social move-


mentswhichregularlyconsistedof forcesunlikely to survive
the impactof the economicand culturalmodernization they
desperately triedto resist.
It wouldratherconstitutea parallel
to theearlyperiodof theworkingclass movement, whichwas
inspiredby its well-foundedprophecythatits numbersand
strengthswere increasedand promotedby the verysystem
againstwhichthe strugglewas waged.
But, of course,numbersalone do not count.We therefore
look at the issues and conflictsaround whichnumbersare
activatedand mobilized.Should therebe reasons to expect
thattheseissueswillbe resolvedeasilyand are thereforeof a
transientnature (or else that theycan be preventedfrom
appearingon the politicalagenda in the firstplace), there
would be littlereason to expectlastingpoliticalconflictsand
alliancesto emerge fromthem.The oppositewould be the
case if the "nonclassissues" politicizedby new social move-
mentscould be conceived as being the intrinsicand con-
tinuouslyreproducedoutcome of the establishedmodes of
rationality of productionand dominationwithinthe institu-
tional, economic, and internationalenvironmentof West
Europeancapitalistdemocracies.It is thereforea discussionof
thetypeof issuesand concernsof newsocialmovements - and
thelikelyfuturerelevanceof theseissueson theagenda of the
advancedsocieties - to whichwe mustnow turn.

TheIssueBasis ofNew Social Movements

The theoriesof "unconventional,""mass," or "deviant"


politicalbehaviorthatwere widelyacceptedin the fiftiesand
maintainedthatmobilization
earlysixties24 fornoninstitutional
politicalaction was the consequence of the losses inflicted

24W. Kornhauser, The Politicsof Mass Society(New York: Free Press, 1976); N. J.
Smelser, Theoryof CollectiveBehavior(New York: Free Press, 1963).

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 839

upon certainpartsof the populationby economic,political,


and cultural modernization,against whose impact these
groups reacted by seeking recourse to "deviant" political
modesof action.Accordingto thesetheories,such lossescon-
sistedin economicstatus,accessto politicalpower,integration
intointermediary formsof socialorganization, and therecog-
nition of traditionalcultural values. If modernizationof
societiesmeans,above all, the differentiation and disarticula-
tionof spheresof action(such as the "private"and the "pub-
lic" spheres),such antimodernist movementswould insiston
preserving a traditional "wholeness" of life.25Social "up-
rootedness"of the alienatedand the marginalwas the key
explanatoryidea in thesetheories.Mass behaviorwas said to
be the typicalformof responseof those who sufferedthe
costsof societalrationalization without(yet)havingbenefited
fromitsaccomplishments. Moreover,thisrevoltagainstmod-
ernizationwas itselfseen to be irrational, riddenby anxieties
and expressiveneeds,and thuslikelyto fail.Collectivebehav-
ior, accordingto Smelser,is an irrationaland exceptional,
hysterical,wishfully thinking, or otherwisecognitively inade-
quate response to structural
strains emergingfromtheprocess
of modernization.This response was said to be based on
negativeand/orpositivemythsor highlysimplistic interpreta-
tions of tension. The implicit message of this sort of
theorizing- whichappears oftento be politically preoccupied
with,and concernedto prevent,a possiblerise of fascistand
authoritarianmass movements - is evidentand often of a
highlyself-assured nature:First,it is thebackward,marginal,
and alienated elementsof societywho form the basis of
noninstitutional politics,not the core and the elites.Second,
such expressiveresistanceagainstmodernization is itselfirra-
tionaland thus,if onlythe modernizingelitesare not over-
whelmedbysuchresistanceand institutions are defendedsuc-

25Cf. B.
Berger et al., The HomelessMind: Modernizationand Consciousness(New
York: Vintage Books, 1973).

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840 SOCIAL RESEARCH

cessfullyby (among other mechanisms)repressivemeans of


social control,the resistanceis bound to fail. Third, it is a
transitory phenomenon,since the ongoingprocessof mod-
ernizationwilleventuallyprovidethe benefitsof progressto
all and thusweakenresistanceto modernization.
Little if anythingof this sort of theorizingabout social
movements findssupportin the evidenceofferedby analyses
of today'snew social movements.The new middleclass con-
stitutingthe most importantpart of these movementscan
hardlybe said to be "uprooted"butis connectedratherclosely
with,and experiencedin the use of, establishedpoliticaland
economicinstitutions. Participantsin protestmovements such
as the peace movementin Great Britainin the late sixties
"appear wellintegratedintoa broad range of socialactivities
and institutions."26It has been demonstrated, as I have men-
tioned before,that those most likelyto engage in uncon-
ventionalformsof politicalactiondo so in additionto the fact
that they also are likely to have engaged in "orthodox"
politicalbehavior."Higherlevelsof protestpotentialare not
associatedwithan estrangement fromorthodoxpolitics,but
are partof a parallel,dualistattitudetowardtheuse of politi-
cal action."27 The stratawhichgivehighestsupportto protest
politicsare by no means deprived and disadvantaged,but
generallyeconomicallysecure, and some of them,such as
"middle class undergraduates,"writes Marsh, "are often
among the mostadvantagedmembersof the community."28
And neitherdo theyadvocate,as the"romanticist" interpreta-
tionwouldhave it,premodern,prescientific, undifferentiated
patternsof social organization;rather,they advocate ar-
rangementsthat would allow specifically"modern" values
(such as individualfreedom,humanisticand universalistic

26Parkin,Middle Class Radicalism, 16.


p.
27Marsh,Protestand PoliticalConsciousness, 87; cf. P. Olsen,
p. J. OrganizedDemocracy:
in a WelfareState- The Case ofNorway(Bergen: Universitetsforlaget,
PoliticalInstitutions
1983),ch. 1.
28Marsh, Protestand PoliticalConsciousness, 165.
p.

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 841

principles)to be realizedmore fullythanthe centralized, bu-


reaucratized,and technology-intensive forms of organization
appear to them of
capable doing. The models for suchsocietal
arrangements are as a rule not adopted froma romanticized
past; they are far more often pragmatically designed and
proposed, and they often make some selectiveuse of the
accomplishments of technical,economic,and politicalmod-
ernization.For instance,the call for decentralization is not
derivedfroman irrationallongingforpremodernsmallcom-
munitiesbut fromboth an understanding of the destructive
side effectsof centralizationand the potentialfor decen-
tralization thatis made availableby,amongotherthings,ad-
vanced electronictechnologiesof information and communi-
cation.Nor could thesemovementsbe describedplausiblyas
"irrational," becausetheirsocialbase participates to an above-
averageextentin the cognitivecultureof society(i.e., in the
knowledgeand information availablein society)as indicated
by highlevelsof educationalattainment. As a consequenceof
the movements'participation in the "modern"cognitivecul-
ture, we find often complex, pragmaticallylimited,and
nonideologicalaccountsof social realityand its dilemmasas
well as a relatively high level of toleranceforambiguity and
divergenceof ideologicalprinciples.The new movements can
perhaps best be described, in the words of Galtung, "a
as
federationof issue-movements thatworkout thelevelof inte-
grationthey findjustifiable,supportingeach otherin many
things,perhaps not in all/'29 Within this nonideological
framework,cognitiveskills and intellectualtools (such as
technologyassessment,social and economic forecasting,
ecologicaland strategicapplicationof systemsanalysis,and
the elaborate use of legal tactics)are often employed to
defendthe case and the demandsmade by new social move-
ments,and consequently the core activists
and informallead-
29J.
Galtung,"The Blue and the Red, the Green and the Brown:A Guide to
Movements and Countermovements" (mimeo),InstitutUniversitaire
d'Etudedu De-
velopment, Geneva,1981,p. 18.

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842 SOCIAL RESEARCH

ers of, for instance,German "citizens'initiatives" are often


recruitedfromteachers,lawyers, and
journalists, other mem-
bers of the professions.
It seems alreadyclear, on the basis of these observations,
thatthe new movementsare of a different typethan those
analyzedby the older theories just referred to. But can this
also be said of the issues thatunderliemobilization?
In an earlier sectionof this essay, when the distinction
betweenthe"old" and the"new"politicalparadigmwas intro-
duced, the twocorrespondingtypesof dominantissueswere
contrastedas centeringon the distribution of income and
security vs. issues having to do and
withidentity autonomy -
for example,human rights,peace, and the preservationof
physicaland aestheticqualitiesof the environment. The fol-
lowing discussionwill not be organized in terms of this
dichotomy of typesof issues,but ratherin termsof thecross-
cuttinganalyticaldimensionof two contrastingexplanatory
upon (new) issues.One of the well-known
perspectives difficul-
tiesinherentin any analysisof political"issues"derivesfrom
the dual referencethatis made wheneverthisconceptis em-
ployed: some question is said to be an issue if there are
significantnumbersof actors-who feel,accordingto theirpar-
ticularvalues, needs, wants,or interests,that the question
mustbe resolvedin ways thatconflictwiththe interestsof
otheractors,and if eventsor developments occurin the light
of whichneeds are consideredsalientenough to make an
"issue" out of a hithertounrecognized"problem."Thus the
"issueness"of an issueemergesas thejointeffectofvaluesand
facts,interestsand events,subjectiveand objectivefactors.
Accordingly, the rise of new issuescan be explainedprimar-
ily by placing emphasisupon eithersubjectiveor objective
factors.In thecase of predominantly subjectiveor, morepre-
cisely, psychologizing and reductionist explanations, the
majorweightis givento a change of the values and motiva-
tionsof actors,theirsubjectivedispositionsand resourcesof
action,etc., althoughchanges in these variablesmay then

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 843

themselvesbe relatedto prior objectiveevents,such as the


objectiveparametersof politicaland generalsocialization, or
developments on the plane of the welfare state.On the other
side,predominantly "objective"explanationsrelyprimarily on
suchindependentvariablesas events,developments, changing
conditions, contradictions, structural problems,etc.,whichare
supposed to be responsiblefor the rise of issues,although
here, too, intervening or mediatingmechanismsof a more
subjective nature (e.g., the actors'cognitivecapacityto per-
ceiveevents)maybe insertedin the explanatorymodel. Ulti-
mately,each of the twoapproachesis tied to one side in the
debate between two schools of thoughtin social theory,
namely "actor-centered"methodologicalindividualistsand
"structuralist" or "functionalist" modes of social theorizing.
As far as the studyof new social movementsand uncon-
ventionalmodes of politicalparticipationis concerned,the
existingresearchliteratureand interpretation is clearlyover-
whelmingly inspiredby the firstof these two majorvariantsof
social theorizing. That is to say,the interestand explanatory
approach has in most cases been in the "push"of newvalues,
demands,and actorsthatprovide"issueness"to certainques-
tions,ratherthan in the "pull" of objectiveevents,devel-
opments,or systemic imperativesthe cognitiveperceptionof
whichmightconditionor giveriseto issues.For themostpart,
it has been assumedthatnew issues or new formsof action
reflect"risingdemands"on thepartof actors,as opposed to a
risingurgencyto defendexisting needs,the conditionsof ful-
fillment of whichhave deteriorated. Similarly,theexplanatory
variableshave moreoftenbeen motivational ones thancogni-
tiveones. The methodsemployedhave muchmoreoftenbeen
those particularly suited for the studyof individualactors
as
(such surveyresearch)ratherthan those suitablefor the
studyof systemicvariables (such as historicalmethodsor
structuralanalysis).Furthercorrelatesof the dichotomybe-
tween"psychologizing" and "structural" approachesseem to
be that the formerare more oftenfavoredby outside ob-

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844 SOCIAL RESEARCH

serversof movements, whileself-theorizations of such move-


mentstendto referto objectiveconditions, circumstances, and
-
eventsas themajorcausesthatgenerate"issueness" and thus
to actionas the rationalresponsethatthe perceivednatureof
the problemswould call for. Similarly,the "psychologizing"
approachwould ratherconceiveof the long-term perspective
of movementsin termsof "oscillatingwaves" or transient
"moods,"whilea more structuralapproach is inclinedmore
easilyto thinkin termsof basicdiscontinuities and changesof
"axial principles."Perhaps one could even say thatthe first
approach is committedintellectually to the formationof
theoriesaboutsocialmovements, while the secondis interested
in buildingtheoriesof orfor social movements.
The morestructural typeof explanatory argument(whichis
clearlyfavoredby authors30who look upon the new move-
mentsmore in termsof theirpotentialforstructural change
than in termsof their politicaldeviance and potentialfor
disturbinginstitutional process) refersto three interrelated
aspects of advanced capitalistindustrial(or, in Touraine's
usage, "postindustrial")societies.First,the negativeside ef-
fectsof the establishedmodes of economicand politicalra-
tionalityare no longerconcentrated and class-specificbut dis-
in
persed time,space, and kind so as to affect every
virtually
memberof societyin a broad varietyof ways("broadening").
Second, there is a qualitativechange in the methodsand
effectsof dominationand social control,makingits effect
more comprehensive and inescapable,whichaffectsand dis-
ruptseven those spheresof life that so far have remained
outside the realm of rational and explicit social control
("deepening").Third,boththe politicaland the economicin-
stitutions whichjointlyadministerthe rationality of produc-

30Brand, Neue soziale Bewegungen;Brand et al., Protestbewegungen in der Bundes-


republik;J. Hirsch, Der Sicherheitsstaat:Das "Modell Deutschland" seine Krise und
die neuensozialenBewegungen(Frankfurt:Europäische Verlagsanstalt,1980); Raschke,
"Politik und Wertwandel"; A. Melucci, L'invenzionedel presente:Movimenti,identità,
bisogniindividuali(Bologna: II Mulino, 1982).

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 845

tion and controlhave lost any self-corrective


or self-limiting
capacity;theyare helplesslycaughtwithina viciouscirclethat
can be brokenonlyfromoutsidethe officialpoliticalinstitu-
tions("irreversibility").
These are broad and sweepingpropositions concerningthe
natureof contemporary West European societies,and they
thereforerequire some elaborationand illustration.Taken
together,theyamountto the diagnosisof the simultaneous
deepening,and increasing irreversibility
broadening, of forms of
dominationand deprivation.As to the firstpoint,Habermas
has arguedmostconsistently and cogentlythatin latecapitalist
societiesthe workrole is neitherthe exclusivenor the basic
focusof the experienceof deprivation,an experiencewhich
equallyaffectstherolesof thecitizen,theclientof administra-
tive decisions,and the consumer.31An even more radical
versionof the"dispersed"natureof powerand powerlessness
thatcan no longerbe attributed to anycentralor fundamental
causal mechanism,least of all industrialproduction,is pre-
sentedbyFoucault.This typeof argumentobtainsa greatdeal
of plausibility
if we takeintoconsideration twocharacteristics
of modernpoliticaleconomiesand the technologicalsystems,
bothmilitary and civilian,on whichtheydepend: theirenor-
mous capacityfor conflictdisplacementand the increasing
scope of the impactsof failures(i.e., theirincreasingprone-
ness to "catastrophe").The firstcharacteristic concernsthe
flexibility
by which concrete conflicts
can be solvedby impos-
ing thecostsof thesolutionupon externalactorsor shifting it
to new dimensionsof privilegeand deprivation.In thissense,
the solutionof a wage conflictmayresultin regionalimbal-
ances,or new healthhazardsat work,or inflation, or cutsin
social programsfor certaingroups,etc. This systemicinter-
changeabilityof the scenesof conflictand the dimensionsof
conflictresolutionmakesany idea of a "primordial"conflict

31 Habermas, Theoriedes kommunikativen


Handelns (Frankfurt:Suhrkamp, 1981),
J.
2: 513.

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846 SOCIAL RESEARCH

(such as derived,for instance,from the Marxian "law of


value") obsolete.Interconnectedness and interchangeability is
also the conditionthat extendsthe scope of the effectsof
failuresor errors.Anynumberof illustrations come to mind,
whethertakenfromlarge-scaletechnologicalsystems(indus-
trializedagriculture,atomic energy,urban transportation,
military defense,etc.) or fromlarge-scaleeconomicand ad-
ministrative organizations(world markets,national social-
securitysystems,etc.). Both kinds of society-wide spillover
effectslead to a "classlessness,"or an increasingly"social"
characterof deprivation - a fact that would render plainly
inadequateanytraditional Marxistviewof "coreconflicts" and
core contradictions inherentin specificinstitutional settings.
The secondof the above threepointsamountsto the diag-
nosisof the deepening of deprivationwhichaffectsveryfun-
damentallevels of physical,personal,and social existence.
This aspectof modernformsof rationalization and controlis
often referredto by metaphorssuch as the "invasion"or
"colonization of thelife-world."32 That is to say,economicand
politicalregulationis no longerlimitedto themanipulation of
externalconstraints of individualbehaviorbut intervenes, in
theserviceof technocratic standardsof rationalityand coordi-
nation, into the symbolic infrastructureof informal socialin-
teractionand the productionof meaningthroughthe use of
legal, educational,medical,psychiatric, and media technol-
ogies. This new and pervasivetypeof social controlis often
describedas a functionalrequirementof a new stage of
production:
The mechanisms of accumulation are no longerfed by the
simpleexploitation ofthelaborforce,butrather bythemanip-
ulationof complexorganizational systems,by controloverin-
formation and over processesand institutions of symbol-
formation, and by intervention in interpersonalrelations....
Production ... is becoming theproduction of socialrelations
andsocialsystems ... itis evenbecoming theproduction ofthe
32Ibid.

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 847

individual's and interpersonal


biological . . . The con-
identity.
trolandmanipulationofthecenters
oftechnocratic domination
are increasingly
penetrating life.33
everyday
Such rathervague and global propositionscould be clarified
perhapsbyexploringthe idea thatlarge-scalesocialand tech-
nologicalsystemstend to become, in the process of their
furthergrowth,exponentially more sensitiveand vulnerable
to, and hence intolerantof, unpredictable, irregular,or "de-
viant"modesof behavioramong theircomponentactorsand
thuscome to relyon ever greaterand moredetailedpreven-
tiveand coordinatedmeasuresof surveillanceand control.34
The thirdpointrefersto thestructural of existing
incapacity
economicand politicalinstitutions to perceiveand to deal
effectivelywiththe globalthreats,risks,and deprivations they
cause. The ratherparadoxicalimage one receivesfromcur-
renttheoriesbothof economicfailureand "statefailure"35 is
that these institutions are both all-powerfulin controlling,
exploiting,and dominatingtheir social and physicalenvi-
ronmentsand at the same timelargelyhelplessto deal with
the self-paralyzing consequencesof the use of such power.
This experienceof blockedlearningcapacity(the blockedca-
pacityfor self-transformation or even self-limitationof the
institutionsof technological, economic,political,and military
rationalityhas led, in thewordsof Suzanne Berger,in Europe
in the late 1970s to protestthatwas directed"notagainstthe
failureof thestateand societyto provideforeconomicgrowth
and materialprosperity, but againsttheirall-too-considerable
successin havingdone so, and againstthe price of thissuc-
cess."36

33A. Melucci,"The New Social Movements:


A TheoreticalApproach,"SocialSci-
enceInformation
19 (1980): 217-218.
34Cf. Hirsch, Der Sicherheitsstaat.
35M.
Jänicke, Wie das Industriesystem Kosten und
von seinen Misständenprofitiert:
Nutzen technokratischerSymptombekämpfung: Umweltschutz, innere
Gesundheitswesen,
Sicherheit
(Opladen: WestdeutscherVerlag,1979).
36Berger,"Politicsand Anti-Politics," 32.
p.

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848 SOCIAL RESEARCH

To be sure, these propositionsmightbe looked upon as


tendentiousviewsmade up to servethe legitimation needs of
newsocialmovements. On theotherhand,shouldtheseprop-
ositionsbe demonstrably valid,thiswould provideus witha
sociologicalinterpretationof the rise of the new movements,
whosemodeof politicalactionwouldthenappear as a rational
responseto a specificproblem-environment. This rationalre-
sponseinterpretation wouldbe themorecompelling, themore
the followingconditionscould be shownto be given:
(a) The aboveanalyticalpropositions are sharednotonlyby
movementactivistsbut beyondthemby a widercommunity
of informedand competentcontemporaries whodo notthem-
selvesbecome involvedin movementpolitics.
(b) The causes and issues whichare centralto new social
jnovementsare those,and onlythose,the predominanceand
urgencyof whichis caused bytheobjectiveprocessesreferred
to by the above threepropositions.
(c) The broad constituency of movementsas well as their
pool of activists
are drawn from thosesocialgroupswhichare
most likelyto be affectedby the negativeconsequencesof
these processesand/orthose who have the easiestcognitive
access to the workingof these processesand theirconse-
quences.
(d) The values advocatedand defendedby the new social
movements are not"new"butpartand parcelof therepertory
of dominantmodernculture,whichobviouslywould make it
difficult to thinkof movementsas flowingfromeither"pre-
modern"or, for thatmatter,"postmodern"subcultures.
(e) The extrainstitutionalformsof action adopted by the
proponentsof the new paradigmare explicitly used and jus-
tifiedby referenceto "learningincapacities"and a structural
lackof "responsiveness" of establishedinstitutions,
ratherthan
in the name of some revolutionary politicaldoctrine.
To theextentthatmovements conformto thesecriteria, the
viewthattheirinterpretations of the worldtend to be mere
of the actionof deviantpoliticalsub-
ideologicaljustifications
culturescan be refuted.

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 849

To startwiththeproblemof "new"values,itcould verywell


be claimedthatwhatis leastnew in today'ssocial movements
is theirvalues. For thereis certainlynothingnew in moral
principlesand demandssuch as the dignityand autonomyof
the individual,the integrity of the physicalconditionsof life,
equalityand participation, and peacefuland solidaristic forms
of socialorganization. All thesevaluesand moralnormsadvo-
cated by the proponentsof the new politicalparadigmare
firmlyrootedin modern politicalphilosophies(as well as aes-
thetictheories)of thelasttwocenturies, and theyare inherited
fromthe progressivemovementsof boththe bourgeoisieand
theworkingclass.This continuity would suggestthatthe new
social movementsare, in theirbasic normativeorientations,
neither"postmodern"in the sense thattheyemphasizenew
valueswhichare not (yet)sharedbythe widersocietynor,on
the otherside,"premodern,"in the sense thattheyadhere to
the remnantsof a romanticizedprerationalpast. Regarding
theirimplicitmoralphilosophies,theyare ratherthe contem-
porariesof the societiesin whichtheylive and whose institu-
tionalembodiments of economicand politicalrationality they
At
oppose. any rate,thisoppositiondoes not primarily occur
between"old" and "new"valuesbut betweenconflicting views
concerningthe extentto whichthe different elementswithin
the repertory of modernvalues are satisfiedin an equal and
balancedway.For instance,personalautonomyis byno means
a "new"value; whatis new is the doubtthatthisvalue willbe
furthered as a moreor less automaticby-product or covariant
of dominantinstitutions such as propertyand marketmech-
anisms,democraticmass politics,the nuclear family,or the
institutions of masscultureand masscommunications. Whatis
at issue is not the values but the mode of implementation of
values,and the presupposedlinksbetweenthe satisfaction of
different values(e.g.,betweenincomeand intrinsic satisfaction
in work,or the linkbetweencontrolover elitesand personal
developmentof judgmentand understandingin democratic
masspolitics).Values such as autonomy,identity, authenticity,
butalso humanrights,peace, and the desirability of balanced

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850 SOCIAL RESEARCH

physicalenvironments are largelynoncontroversial. It is this


"contemporaneous" character of theunderlyingvalues of new
social movementsthat leaves theirintellectualand political
opponents rather defenseless or leads them to misrep-
resentand oftencaricaturethesevalues as eitherromanticist
(i.e., as politicallyand/orpsychicallyregressive)or as the
luxuriouspredilectionsof privilegedgroups who have lost
contact with social "realities."More accurately,one could
thereforespeak of a "modern" critiqueof modernization,
ratherthan an "antimodernizing" or "postmaterialist" one,
sinceboththe foundationsof the critiqueas wellas itsobject
are to be foundin the moderntraditionsof humanism,his-
toricalmaterialism, and the emancipatoryideas of the En-
lightenment. Whatwe observe,then,is not a "value change"
butan awarenessof thedisaggregation and partialincompati-
bilitywithintheuniverseof modernvalues.The tiesof logical
implication between values- such as thelinksbetweentechnical
progressand the satisfaction of human needs, propertyand
autonomy, income and identity,and, mostgenerally, between
the rationality of processesand the desirabilityof outcomes
- are perceived to disintegrate.This cognitiveawareness
of clashesand contradictions withinthe modernset of values
may lead to a selectiveemphasisupon someof thesevalues-
whichis stilldifferent froma value change.
If we turnto theactorsof the"new"paradigm,thestructural
explanationwould lead us to expect,as we have argued be-
fore,thatthe mostlikelyactorsare thosewhohave theeasiest
cognitiveaccess to the particularnature of systemicir-
rationalitiesor those who are the most likelyvictimsof
cumulativedeprivations.The firstpart of thistwo-sidedex-
pectationis supportedbythefactthatlevelsof education(and
possiblythe recencyof educationalexperienceas indicatedby
age) plays the most importantrole as a conditionof new
movements' activism.Two factorsmaycontribute to thedirect
correlationbetweenlevels of educationand unconventional
formsof politicalparticipation.One is that a high level of
formalschoolingleads to some (perceived)competenceto

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 851

make judgmentsabout complicatedand abstract"systemic"


mattersin the fieldsof economic,military, legal, technical,
and environmental affairs.The otheris thathighereducation
increasesthe capacityto think(and conceivablyeven to act)
independently, and the preparednessto critically questionre-
ceivedinterpretations and theoriesabout the world.In other
words, educated people would not only be more competent
to formtheirown judgment but also less bound by rigid
relianceon thejudgmentof others.
Moreover,cognitiveaccess to such irrationalities, especially
as the "deepening"aspectis concerned,mightbe supposedto
be thegreatestwherepeople are occupationally locatedwithin
thefieldof thepersonalsocialservices,butalso in administra-
tion.For thosepartsof thenew middleclassworkingin social
servicesand administrative functionsare confrontedmost
closelyand immediately withthoseirrationalitiesthroughtheir
occupationalpractice and experience.Also, people can be
expectedto be least inhibitedto develop and practicefavor-
able attitudestowardthe concernsof the new movementsif
theyare relativelysecurein theirpresent economicpositions(as
opposed to theprosperity enjoyed,as in Inglehart'stheory,in
theirformative years).In most European countries,such rela-
tiveprosperity and, mostof all, securityis enjoyedby public-
sectoremployees.If we combinethesefourvariables(educa-
tional attainment,age, personal services,public-sectorem-
ployment)we getveryclose to thesocialcategorythat,accord-
ing to all quantitative
evidence,has the highestproportionof
people with favorableattitudestowardtheconcernsand prac-
ticesof new social movements.This social categoryalso hap-
pens to consistof the groups whichhave been describedby
variousneoconservative writersas a "new class"37and which
are said to be typicalproponentsof an "adversaryculture."38
Whilethe structural explanationthusfitsthe "new middle
37Cf. B. Bruce-Briggs,
ed., TheNewClass?(New York:TransactionBooks,1979);
H. Schelsky, Die Arbeittun die anderen: Klassenkampfund Priesterherrschaft
der In-
tellektuellen
(Opladen: Westdeutscher
Verlag,1975).
38D. Bell, The CulturalContradictions
of Capitalism(New York: Basic Books, 1976).

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852 SOCIAL RESEARCH

class" component of new social movementsrather nicely,the


same is at least less obvious concerning that segment that we
have termed "peripheral" or "decommodified" groups.39 In
what sense can this highlyheterogeneous categorybe thought
to be particularly affected by and therefore specifically
mobilizedby the particularpatternsof deprivationand control
we have discussed before? One possible answer would be the
experience, shared by the various elements within this cate-
gory,of being excluded from those modes of participationin
society and polity which are mediated through active and
stable labor marketparticipationand large-scale formalorga-
nization.Another answer would be to point to the substantially
lower degree of personal autonomy that most members of
"peripheral" groups (and especially middle class housewives
and adolescents) enjoy regarding their individual disposition
over theirconditions of life. Finally,one mightspeculate that
these groups are relativelyless constrained by norms and
institutionsin a societyin which more and more of lifeis spent
outside formalwork roles (before, during, and afterthe work
life), but in which widelyaccepted patternsor models of how
to spend the nonworklife have not yet been established; this
might lead to an "anomic" condition in which a shrinking
proportion of the universe of the societal map is charted by
institutions and where, accordingly, the terrae incognitae
spread. Least of all could a sizable mobilizationof membersof
the old middle class, such as occurs in environmentalistand
regionalist movements, be accounted for in terms of a
structural explanation. For it is rather the violation of
traditional values in response to which the mobilization of
39The new middle class and
"peripheral" groups seem to share two structural
characteristics.First, most of the "peripheral" groups stand in a relation of (past,
present,or potential)clienteleshipwithprovidersof social and personal services,and
this clienteleshipcan often be supposed to affecttheir central life interests.Second,
and probablymore importantly,both groups share the conditionof "decommodifica-
tion." The economic logic of efficiency,of thinkingin termsof costs and returns,is,
for differentreasons, far less applicable concerningthe use of one's own labor power
and effortsthan is the case, for instance, in the area of industrial production of
commodities.

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 853

theseold middleclasselementsoccurs,and theiractioncould


therefore be analyzedmoreadequatelyalong the linesof the
patternsand dynamicsof "old" social movements.
Also theissuesof the "new"paradigmare clearlyconnected
to a view of social realitywhich is characterizedby the
broadeningof deprivationsand (conceivablycatastrophic)
malfunctions, the deepeningof control,and the diagnosisof
blockedinstitutional learningcapacities.All majorconcernsof
new social movementsconvergeon the idea thatlifeitself -
and the minimalstandardsof "good life" as defined and
sanctionedby modern values- is threatenedby the blind
dynamicsof military, economic,technological,and political
rationalization; and that there are no sufficient and suffi-
cientlyreliable barrierswithindominantpoliticaland eco-
nomicinstitutions thatcould preventthemfrompassingthe
thresholdto disaster.This viewalso providesthebasisforthe
adoptionand legitimation of unconventional modesof action.
This is so fortworeasons.First,ifin factlifeand survivalare
whatis at stake,theformalfaithfulness towardanyestablished
"rulesof the game" is discreditedeasilyas beingof inferior
significance comparedto such substantive questions.Second,
if institutionalmechanismsare seen to be too rigidto recog-
nize and absorbtheproblemsof advancedindustrialsocieties,
it would be inconsistent to relyupon theseinstitutions for a
solution.40The riseof thenewsociopolitical movements would
thusappear to be theresultof a "provocation" thatconsistsin
the more widelyand more clearlyvisibleinternalcontradic-
tionsand inconsistencies withinthe value systemof modern
culture, rather than the result of a clash betweenthe "domi-
nant"and some "new" (or, for thatmatter,romanticist and
"premodern") values.
That the values on whichnew social movements are based
must be understood as a selectiveradicalization of "modern"
values,rather than as a comprehensiverejectionof these

40Cf. D. Rucht,
Planung und Partizipation(Munich: Tuduv, 1982), p. 277.

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854 SOCIAL RESEARCH

values,is also evidentfromnumerousdetailsof the dynamics


of the new paradigm of extrainstitutional politics. This
paradigmdepends as muchon theaccomplishments of political
and economicmodernization as on criticismsof itsunfulfilled
promisesand perverse For instance,the period pre-
effects.
ceeding the rise of the new feminist movementin the second
half of the sixties that is, the two postwardecades- was
-
probablythe periodin whichthe mostrapid and far-reaching
advancesin thesocialpositionof womenin generalhave been
initiatedor accomplishedwithinthe last century(e.g., easier
and moreegalitarianaccessto highereducationand thelabor
market,smallerfamiliesand a reduced workload in increas-
inglymechanizedhouseholds,lessrigidpublicattitudesas well
as liberalizinglegislationconcerningbirthcontrol,abortion,
and divorce,etc.). All relevantfindingssuggestthat those
womenwhoare the mostlikelybeneficiaries of theseadvances
are also thosemosteasilymobilizedforthe causes of the new
feminist movement.This is by no meansa paradox; ratherit
appears as a logicalsequenceif we assumethatit is onlyafter
the experienceof thisliberalization of the normsand rules
defining the status of women in societythatit becomespossi-
ble to bringinto focusand to politicizethe functionalist and
productivist logic of male-dominated institutions.
Similarly,it
becomes possible to conceive of the subordination of
"feminist" visionsof workand identity onlyafterconsiderable
progresstoward"liberation"has already been made as an
unintendedby-productof modernizingdevelopments,and
after"womanhood"has thusbecomea possiblefocusof iden-
tityformation. Similarly,ecologicalmovements can invokethe
testimonies(such as the firstreportof the Club of Rome)
whichcome fromthe centersof the institutions of scientific,
economic,and politicalrationality and whichpointout vividly
the possiblycatastrophic consequencesof an unmodifiedcon-
tinuationof these modes of rationality. The same applies to
the new peace movements,which often popularize and
radicalize those doubts that already exist among worried

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 855

minoritieswithinmilitaryelites and strategicexpertscon-


cerningthe dilemmas,risks,and contradictions builtintocur-
rentdefensestrategies. In all theseas wellas othercases,the
proponentsof thenewpoliticalparadigmrelyupon structural
changes,pieces of knowledge,and standardsof legitimation
whichare providedto themby (dissentingminorities within)
ruling elites themselves (or reformist projectsof such elites
whichhave remainedincompleted),ratherthan on norms
and models derived froma distantpremodernpast or an
equallydistantUtopianfuture.
The "contemporary," integrated,and in thatsense "mod-
ern" natureof (at least) the middleclass componentof new
social movements is further highlighted by the well-
documentedfact41thatthosewho use nonconventional prac-
ticesof politicalactiondo not do so becausetheylack experi-
ence with(or are unawareof) availableconventional formsof
politicalparticipation;on the contrary,these nonconventional
actorsare relativelyexperiencedin,and oftenfrustrated with,
conventionalpracticesand theirlimitations. Accordingly, the
critiqueof politicalparties,parliamentary government, pub-
lic bureaucracies,majorityrule, and centralization voiced by
theoristswithinthe new social movementsalwaysappears to
concentrateon the limitations, instancesof
partialrigidities,
malfunctioning, and empirical evidence of deterioration,
ratherthanon a global and principledrejectionof thesein-
stitutionssuch as we findin "revolutionary" theoriesof the
extremeLeft and Right.Finally,the "modern"characterof
thenewsocialmovements is underlinedbytheirevidentbelief
in the assumptionthat the course of historyand societyis
"contingent" and hencecan be createdand changedbypeople
and social forcesdeterminedto do so, ratherthan beingde-
terminedbygiven"metasocial"(Touraine)principlesof divine
or naturalorderor, forthatmatter,byan inescapableroad to
catastrophe.This methodicalassumptionthatthingscan be
41Cf.
Marsh, Protestand PoliticeliConsciousness,
and Olsen, OrganizedDemocracy.

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856 SOCIAL RESEARCH

changedevenallows,as a rule,forcontingencyconcerningthe
areas and methodsin whichsuch change mightbe accom-
plished, and it thus differsfundamentallyin its logical
structurefromthe doctrinesof classicalMarxism(as well as
from the doctrinesof some other earlier modern social
movements) whichreliedupon ontologicalassumptionsabout
the predetermined,privileged (or even "correct") social
groups,pointsin time,organizationalforms,and tacticsby
whichchange could be broughtabout.

A ChallengetotheOld Paradigm

As I have argued already,the new politicalparadigmcan


bestbe understoodas the "modern"critiqueof furthermod-
ernization.This critiqueis based on major segmentsof the
educatednew middleclassand carriedout bythecharacteris-
tic model of unconventional, informal,and class-unspecific
mode of actionof thisclass. In mostnew social movements,
however,thisnew middleclass base is shotthroughwithele-
mentscomingfromtwootherregionsof the socialstructure,
namelydecommodified"peripheral"groupson the one side
and elementsof theold, oftenruralmiddleclasson theother.
While the new middle class is, for reasons discussedabove,
mostlikelyto be sensitiveto the risksand perverseeffectsof
furthertechnical,economic,military, and politicalmoderniza-
tion,the othertwogroups are most likelyto be theimmediate
and moststrongly affectedvictimsof such modernization. In
spite of the convergencesand that
affinities often are discov-
ered among these groups in an ad hoc fashion,the di-
vergencesare clear enough: whilethe "modern"critiqueof
modernization forwhichthe new middleclasselementstands
and emancipatory
is based on universalistic valuesand ideals,
as well as on the advanced cognitivecapacitiesof the new
middle class, the critiqueof the old middle class and the
peripheralgroupsoftendrawsupon premodern,particularis-

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 857

tic, deviant, hedonistic,retreatist,or otherwiseirrational


normative sourcesand cognitivestyles.I wishto concludethis
essaywitha discussionof thepropositionthatwhetherornotthe
forcesthatrepresent thenewparadigmwill transcendtheirpresently
marginal,thoughhighlyvisiblepowerpositionand thuswhether they
willbe able to challengethedominant"old"paradigmof thepolitical
willeffectivelydepend,mostof all, on whether and in whichwaythe
internalcleavagesand inconsistenciesthatexistbetween thenewmid-
dle class, old middleclass, and peripheralelementswithinthe new
social movements can be resolved.
Up until the midseventies, the traditionalleft-right con-
tinuumwas an approximately adequate model in whichall
relevantpoliticaland societalcollectiveactorscould be located.
The underlyingdimension,manifestly reflectedin the Ger-
man partysystem,was a continuumfromconservativeeco-
nomicliberalism to reformistand redistributive etatism,witha
liberal-reformistpositionin between. This linearmodelof the
politicaluniverse,representing as it does the majorplayersin
the growth-and-security game, is clearlyno longeradequate.
Both in termsof individualvalue dispositions42 and in terms
of collectiveactionand collectiveactors,a new cross-cutting
dimensionmustbe added whichdepictsthe contrastbetween
the old paradigmcenteredon issuesof economicgrowthand
security,on theone side,and thenewparadigmdefinedbyits
defensivestrugglesagainst the irrationalities of moderniza-
tion,on theother.We thusgeta triangular modelof thepoliti-
cal universe:the forcesof the traditionalLeft,liberal and
conservative forces,and the new social movementsincluding
their(incipientand in some places dramaticallysuccessful)
experiments with"green"or "alternative" parliamentary poli-
tics. The resultingconfiguration of politicalcleavages and
theirmosttypicalsocial bases and potentialalliancesis repre-
sentedin Figure3.

42S. H. Barnes and M. Kaase, eds., PoliticalAction:Mass in Five Western


Participation
Democracies(London: Sage, 1979); Baker et al., GermanyTransformed.

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858 SOCIAL RESEARCH

Figure 3. A Triangular Model of Political Cleavages and Potential Alliances

new social f elements of new middle class,


movementsand ' "peripheral" groups,
allied political parties [ elements of old middle class

AllianceIII / ' Alliance1

/ AllianceII '
"Left" L ' "Right"
workingclass, elements of old and
f
elements of new middle new middle class,
j
class
{unionized [ nonunionized workers

Such triangulararrangementsare, however,basicallyun-


stable,at leastif equal distanceis assumedbetweenthe three
polar points.For finalchoicesand decisionscan be made only
afterthenumberof alternatives has firstbeen reducedto two,
whichimpliesthe need for coalitionsor at least ad ftocal-
liances.I willnow tryto assess the relativeprobability of the
formationof each of the threelogicallypossiblealliances,of
whichonlyone, as I willargue subsequently, would involvea
seriousand effective challengeto the old politicalparadigm.
There are three possiblealliances:the proponentsof the
new paradigmand the traditionalliberal-conservative forces;
the "greatcoalition*'typeof corporatist alliance,which would

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 859

largelyexclude the forcesrepresentingthe new paradigm;


and the alliance of these forces with the traditionalLeft
as represented by socialist, social democratic,or Euro-
Communistpoliticalpartiesand their correspondingtrade
union organizations.My propositionis that whichof these
three logicallypossibleallianceswill emerge depends upon
whichof thethreecomponentgroupsmakingup theforcesof
the new paradigmwillbecome (be seen as) dominantwithin
thisheterogeneousset of forces.This, in turn,by no means
dependsprimarily upon thenumericalstrength of each of the
threegroupswithina givennew social movementor within
thenewsocialmovements as a whole.To a largeextentit also
depends on the policiesbywhichpoliticalelitesmake(positive
or negative)symbolic referenceto,and establishselectiverela-
tionswith,one of these groupswithinthe new social move-
ments,and on the extentto whichtheyengage in policies
designedto referspecifically and selectively
to anyone of the
constituent segmentsof the movementsand thus to isolate
themfromtheothercomponents.For all of thethreepossible
alliances,thereare clearlyvisiblepolicyproposalsand initia-
tivesin the issue areas of each of the majornew socialmove-
ments,and for none of themcan it be excluded thatthese
proposalswillbe utilizedeffectively towardthe objectiveof a
consolidation of therespectivealliance.A matrixrepresenting
these connectionsbetweenissue movements,selectiverefer-
encesto constituent componentsof thenewsocialmovements,
thecorresponding specificpolicyproposalsand initiatives,and
each of the threealliancesis presentedin Figure4.
To beginwith,letus considerthepoliciesthatmightlead to
the formationof the Alliance I betweentraditional liberal-
conservative
forces and the new social movements,
the "target"
group of whichare the old middleclass elementswithinthe
movements. In relationto the concernsof the ecologymove-
ment,proponentsof thisallianceare wellequippedto respond
bytraditional conservationist
strategies,emphasizingthe ethi-
cal, religious,and aestheticvalues of unspoilednature,creat-

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860 SOCIAL RESEARCH

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 861

ing national parks, exploitingpremodernresentmentsand


fearsof the old (rural) middleclass about urbanizationand
industrialization,and relyinglargelyon marketmechanisms
forthe implementation of thisconservationist approach.This
does notpreclude,as can be shownin thecase of theBavarian
statepoliciesof environmental protection(Bavaria being the
firstof the GermanLänderwitha special ministry for envi-
ronmentalprotection),large-scaleindustrialdevelopments
which,however,seem to be comparatively moreconcentrated
in theirspatialdistribution.There is even some selectivesup-
port "neopopulist"approachis able to offerto thefeminist
the
movement. thereis littleagreementon theissuesof
Certainly,
abortionor the egalitariantreatment of womenin the labor
market;thereis muchmoreaffinity concerningthe need for
campaignsagainst pornography, about some family-related
socialpolicy,and also some affinity to the moreparticularistic
notionsof "feminine" which
identities, appear to be popularin
somequartersof thefeminist movement. A substantialdegree
of convergencealso existsbetweensome of the new move-
ments'experiments in creatingan "alternative economy"and
liberal-conservativeeconomicdoctrines.This convergencein-
cludesa vehementrejectionof the legitimacy of the demands
and tacticsof workingclass organizations.Not only have
neoliberalsfromFriedmanto Dahrendorfhailed the rise of
"shadowwork"and the informaleconomyas healthysignsof
individualinitiativeand the adaptivenessof the economicsys-
tem,butCatholicconservatives have also proposedtheidea of
"self-help" on
(based voluntary unpaid workwithinthefamily
and local community) as the solutionto fiscaland functional
deficienciesof establishedformsof social policy.There is
obviouslymuchin commonbetweenthesedoctrinesand the
"communitarian" approachesof alternativemovements.
Finally, limited agreementsalso exist betweensome seg-
mentsof the peace movementand conservative forceswhich
could be used as a furtherpillarof thisalliance.As is thecase
withthe civilianuse of nucleartechnology, muchof the pro-

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862 SOCIAL RESEARCH

testcaused by it has to do withthe choice of sites rather than


basic choices about overall industrial or militarystrategy.As
long as the conflictremains on this level, conservativescan
easilyjoin forces with local protestsagainst the siting of nu-
clear warheads in the vicinityof a certain city.Moreover, the
substantialresonance of recent theological condemnations of
nuclear weapons as immoral in themselves(ratherthan in any
particularinstance of use) can be converted easily into a plea
for large-scale increases in conventional defense efforts.
Again, the old middle class would be the most likelyelement
withinthe new social movementsto be persuaded and coopted
along these lines of policy proposals and initiatives.
Here it must suffice to draw two conclusions from this
impressionisticlist of policy links between these two poles of
our model. First, and contrary to assumptions frequently
made in the media and some of the social science literature,
there is by no means a natural or unchangeable tendencyfor
new social movements to form an alignment with the Left.
Second, and concerning the question we started with in this
section, the actual consolidation of the frequentlyproposed
alignment between "new politics" and liberal-conservative
forces would not conceivablyconstituteany serious challenge
to the operational realityof the paradigm of "old" politicswith
its centralityof the criteria of growth and security.For by
being absorbed into this alliance, "new" politics would evi-
dentlycease to be new politicsaspiring to win power positions
in state and society. It might renounce such aspirations in
exchange for concessions which preserve some premodern
protected territoriesof the natural environment,families,sex
roles, forms of work, communities,and defense strategies.
Important segments of political elites are currently at-
temptingto design policies which would lead to Alliance II,
the one between the traditionalLeftand traditionalRight. Im-
plicit in this project is also a selective reference to the new
social movements,this time a negativereferenceto the periph-
eral groups. New social movements are, within this political

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 863

strategy,perceivedprimarily as expressionsof the needs and


values of thosewho neithercontributeto the industrialpro-
ductionprocessof societynor conformto itsvaluesand stan-
dards of rationality.Because of certainfailuresin the pro-
cessesof materialand culturalreproductionand the subver-
sive role playedby some of theirintellectualmentors,these
groups(such as the squatters'movements in variousGerman
and Dutchcities)have escaped thebasicdisciplinethatis to be
presupposedforan orderlyfunctioning of a complexsociety.
These groupshave adopted a fundamentally hostileattitude
towardthe institutions of privatepropertyand the state,and
withoutbeingable to developa realisticand workablepolitical
alternativeof theirown,theirattitudetowardthewelfarestate
is taken to be a basicallycynicaland exploitativeone. The
logicalpublic-policyconsequencesto be drawnfromthiskind
of analysisare repressionand surveillance,exclusion and
nondecisions,and, at best, a measure of symbolicpolitics
aimed at preventingthe peripheralelementsfromwinning
supportwithinthe old or new middleclasses.A broad Left-
Rightcoalitionsupporting and executingthistypeof response
can be broughtaboutbycapitalizingon theparallelfearsthat
theactivitiesof newsocialmovements provokein bothcamps:
in the Left,fearsof unemployment and decliningstandards
of social security,and in the Right,fears of violence and
the prospectof Communistinfiltration of the discontentof
peripheralgroups.Both sortsof fearsare accentuatedby the
conditionsof generaleconomicand international crises.This
type of policyresponse toward the new social movements
againillustratestheinteraction betweennewsocialmovements
and public policy:these movementsare notjust shaped by
what they"are" in termsof theirsocial composition,their
issues,and demands;theyare shaped equallyby the waysin
which they are perceived, interpreted,and symbolically
treatedbypoliticalelites,and bytheextentto whichtheseelite
responsesbecomeself-fulfilling bytheirdetermining the rela-
tiveweightsof thedifferent components withinmovements. In

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864 SOCIAL RESEARCH

this sense, the attemptto define and exclude new social


movementsas criminalor deviantpoliticalbehaviorcan well
become self-fulfilling by excludingthe more reformistele-
mentsof the new social movementsand therebydefiningthe
space of actionof protestpoliticsas beingprimarily a space for
thosewillingto engagein militant antietatistaction.This type
of strategybased upon- and workingtowardthe consolida-
tionof- a Left-Right alliancedoes not of courseexclude the
possibilitythatconcernsof the movementsare takenup in a
technocratic manner(e.g., environmental issues in termsof
thepreservation of strategiceconomicresourcessuchas water;
feministissues in termsof labor-market and demographic
planning;alternative formsof economicorganization in terms
of more effectiveand efficientprovisionof services;peace
issuesin termsof arms-control strategies,etc.).But in spiteof
such technocratic responses,thisallianceis as unlikelyto lead
to a changeof the dominantparadigmof politicsas the first
possiblealliancediscussedabove; in contrastto that"coopta-
tion" approach, however,this "confrontation" approach is
more likelyto lead to a relativelyhigh and permanent(if
fluctuating)level of violentextrainstitutional conflict.
The thirdof the logicallypossiblealliancesis based upon a
strategythatlinksthe traditional Leftand thenewsocialmove-
mentsby focusingon the newmiddleclasscoreof these move-
ments.To a significant extent,it also reliesupon an opening
of traditionalorganizations of theLeft- Communist and social
democraticpartiesand unions- to youths,women and the
unemployed - thatis, upon a positive relationto theperipheral
and partly"decommodified" segmentsof thepopulation.Such
an attemptat transcendingthe limitsof the industrialpro-
letariatin both directionsand therebyat absorbingsome of
theconcernsof thenewmovements has been proclaimedmost
clearlyby the PCI43and, in a somewhatdifferent way,by the
Frenchsocialistunion,CFDT. But it would prematureto
be

43P.
Ingrao, Tradizionee progetto(Bari: de Donato, 1982).

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 865

conclude,on the basis of these two examples,thatsuch an


allianceis mostlikelyto emergewithinworkingclass organi-
zations that have, comparatively speaking,least abandoned
theirtraditional socialistaspirationsfora globalchangeof the
logic developmentof capitalistsociety.On thecontrary,
of one
could be led to speculateabout a U-shaped relationshipbe-
tweenthedegreeof "revisionism" or "modernism" of working
class politicalorganizationsand theirresponsivenessto new
social movementsby the factthatthe GermanSocial Demo-
craticParty(SPD) has, since 1959,increasingly abandonedits
identity as a classical
working class party and has consequently
reliedupon- and electorally benefitedfrom - the new middle
class. It also has made considerableeffortsto demonstrate its
openness to the concernsof the new social movements(a
tendencywhich,sincethelate 1960s,has been effectively sym-
bolizedby the partychairman,WillyBrandt).Thus, a highly
"modern"socialdemocraticpartymayhope to compensatefor
the losses resultingfromits weakeningrootsin the working
class by establishinglinkswiththe new middle class consti-
tuencyof the new social movements.44 As the debates and
controversies withinGerman Social Democracyin the early
1980s- and particularly afterthe fallof the Schmidtgovern-
ment in September 1982- demonstrate,such an electoral
realignmentis not easy to accomplish unless very basic
changesin the strategicprioritiesof socialdemocraticparties
are adopted,changeswhichwould reconcilethe interestsof
theindustrialworkingclassand unions,on theone side,and,
on theother,theconcernsof thenew middleclassmovements
(includingpartsof the "peripheral"clienteleof new middle
class human serviceprofessions)on a strategic (ratherthan
tactical,electoral,and ad hoc) level. As I have mentioned
before,sucha strategic reorientation is, forstructuralreasons,
least probableto evolveunder conditionsof economiccrisis,
44Fora similar theSwedishSAP, see U. Himmelstrand
et al.,
argument
concerning
Beyond Welfare Capitalism: Issues, Actors and Forces in Societal Change (London:
Heinemann,1981).

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866 SOCIAL RESEARCH

whichautomatically seemto place thehighestpremiumon the


restoration of economicgrowthand fullemployment at almost
any price. On the other hand, the bindingforce of these
economicimperativesmay not be sufficiently compellingto
precludesuchreorientation fora leftpartyout of
(particularly
government office);theymay even contribute to its acceler-
ated adoption,depending upon whethera general "Gestalt
switch"concerningthe futureof growth-and-security-based
industrialsystemsoccurs.
There are threeconceivablefactorswhichwould allow for
thislatterpossibility of a consolidationof an alliancebetween
the traditionalLeft and the new social movements.Taken
together,those factorsappear strongenough to justifythe
inclusion,along withthe twoothers,of thispath of develop-
mentintoour listof alternative scenarios.First,the new mid-
dle classelementwithinsocial democratic parties- an element
whichwas includedin thesepartiesas a consequencebothof
theirelectoralstrategiesand of theirextensionof the public
sector and the welfare state- may already be sufficiently
stronglyentrenchedwithintheir leadershipso as to offer
effectiveresistanceto any unconditionalretreatof social
democraticpoliciesto the "productivist" philosophyof eco-
nomicgrowthand too traditionalconceptionsof military se-
curity.Second,the verynatureof theeconomic crisisand the
dilemmasof defensemayrendertheprospectsforrenormali-
zation (i.e., full employment, based upon free international
trade, the welfare state, and an effectiveand balanced nu-
clear deterrence)sufficiently unrealisticto weakenthe more
"traditional"resistanceto such a reorientation. Thus some
political"Gestaltswitch"may be required. These two factors
alone would already explain the rise of prioritiessuch as
"selective"or "qualitative"growthinstead of quantitative
growth,a skepticalattitudetoward technicalchange, basic
doubtsabout the accountingschemeby whichlabor produc-
tivityand productivity increasesare conventionally measured,
and proposalsforunilateralist of
strategies disarmament. All

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CHALLENGING THE BOUNDARIES 867

of these prioritieshave become increasingly popular within


the North and West European countries,where there are
"strong"socialdemocraticparties(thisis especiallytruewhere
thesepartieshave experiencedelectoraldefeatssincethemid-
seventies,as in GreatBritain,Norway,Sweden,Denmark,The
Netherlands, Austria,and WestGermany).A thirdfactorthat
may turn out to be of some relevancein a possibleprocessof
politicalreorientation of the traditionalLeft,and thusin the
formation of AllianceIII, is thefactthatall of themajorsocial
movementsare able to make positivereferenceto and even
draw upon more or less defunct,forgotten,or repressed
ideologicaltraditions of today'ssocialist,socialdemocratic,and
Communistparties and other workingclass organizations.
Such parallelsare mostobviousin the case of the new peace
movementand the traditionsof socialistpacifismin Europe
beforeWorld War I and in the egalitariandemands for an
end to the political and economic discriminationagainst
women.
Similarparallelscould and are being drawn betweento-
day'sexperiments withalternative economicorganizations and
the traditionof workingclass productionand consumer
cooperatives. Furthermore, apartfromtheold concernsof the
workers'movementwithworkers'protectionand healthand
safetyat work(theangle fromwhich,forinstance,the CFDT
has criticallyapproachedthe problemof nuclearenergy),the
concernnot onlywithproduction,wages,and the workerbut
also withthe product,its use value, and the consumeris a
traditional(if often marginal)elementin the demands of
classicalworkingclass organizations whichoverlapsto a large
extentwiththe demandsof modernenvironmentalist move-
ments.Such affinities seem to suggestthatit is notjust the
"postrevisionist" social structureand the presentpolicydi-
lemmasof modernsocialdemocraticparties,butalso the"pre-
revisionist"heritageof such partieswhichcould become in-
strumental in buildingsuch an alliance.
Irrespectiveof the likelihoodof this thirdscenario,it is

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868 SOCIAL RESEARCH

obviouslythe onlyone of the threewhichcould possiblylead


to an effectiveand successfulchallengeof theold paradigmof
-
politics as distinctfromthepreservation of theold paradigm
the
through cooptation and privatization repressionof the
or
new movements.Common to the three scenarios - and, for
thatmatter,thepatternsof politicalconflict thatwe observein
West European states during the late seventiesand early
eighties- is the collisionbetweenforces"within"and forces
"outside"the conventionaldefinition of whatpoliticsis about
and whatits legitimate actors
collective and formsof action
should be.

* Thanks for extensive comments and criticismare due to John Keane, Herbert
Kitschelt,Peter Lange, Dieter Rucht, Bart von Steenberge, and Helmut Wiesenthal.
Most of this study was writtenwhile the author was a Fellow at the Netherlands
Institutefor Advanced Study, Wassenaar, in 1982-83.

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