[diggers350] Re: please read
sop04a at bangor.ac.uk
Fri Sep 24 15:08:44 BST 1999
hiya TLIO and whoever else is out there
sorry that some people got my email as gobbledygook.
ive pasted it in below so it should now be readable.
i am especially looking to interview WOMEN as it seems
that theres a lot of men out here in cyberspace.
anyway message follows
all the best- alex.
i have a request for the list. i am an activist (for
7 years now) aslo doing my phd on, why people take direct
action. so basically i need to find people who would be
happy to talk about their ethics, politics, their
worldviews, their need to show off (oops sorry thats just
me probably)etc etc.
i especially would like to interview a couple of people who
are involved in more proactive nvda (ie landsquats which
show alternative visions/utpoias) as much as the (of
necessity)reactive campaigns such as newbury
so thats you lot really. any takers? please please!!!
option1 is that i come and visit + we do a face to face
or option 2 it can be done via email.
sory i didnt make the tlio gathering, or the natty one for
that matter. being a mum has to come first though...
below is some bumph saying more or less the same that i
sent to the rts list a while ago. there is a very boring
academic resume of my phd as well right at the end.
--are you a dedicated activist?
-are you passionate about why you take direct action?
can you rant about it into the wee small hours?
if so i need to hear from you!! read on...
hi i'm alex plows-some people might know me as "donga alex".
ive been doing nvda since twyford in 1992, and have been
part of many other campaigns such as Solsbury hill
and newbury. i've been living in north wales for a few
years now and have focussed a lot more on local
campaigns/issues as part of the gwynnedd and mon ef! group.
over the last few years i've been writing loads about the
reasons why we take direct action, the political and
ethical issues which motivate us to put -often- our lives
and liberty at risk in the defence of mother earth. i'm now
doing a phd on this and i need help!!
so please please if you feel you can contribute by letting
me meet up with you to have a good talk,and record your
finest rants and visions-
email me <sop04a at bangor.ac.uk>
or write to alex plows
dept of sociology and social policy
university of wales bangor
gwynnedd [work phone no 01248 383825]
MORE BUMPH-WORTH READING!
i am doing this phd for 3 main reasons-
1)people have a hell of a lot to say but it doesnt get
picked up on by the press desperate for a 'swampy
soundbite'- so this is a way of getting a really good look
at activists worldviews, so that we get properly
represented and hopefully inspire some people- so academia
as another strategy to achieve political change (ok snigger
if you want!)
2) there are a lot of academics starting to write about us
as a"new social movement"-some of it is good and well
motivated- a lot of it is bollox as they just dont really
get it, and they arent connecting-or worse just want to
use us as a platform for their theories. Being part of
it all, i can connect, i believe in the cause, and i know
where to look, so this is us telling our own story
3) some of the questions i'm asking, like 'what do we have
in common'-'where are we different' 'does it matter as
diversity and autonomy are strengths 'where are we going'
are the sorts of strategic things a lot of us ask ourselves.
a lot of what i'm writing at the moment is about organic
strategies, that it just unfolds as we go along, and we
deliberately dont mess around with it too much cos thats
where things go wrong. that all being said i think that the
sort of thing i'm doing can be of use to us as a movement.i
do workshops on these sorts of things at festys for
starters and aim to publish stuff in user-friendly ways.
below for anyone who might want more bumph is some rather
poncy text about my research (my latest attempt to get some
TITLE Activist Strategies and Motivations; Identities and
Construction of Meanings
As part of the Donga Tribe who campaigned at Twyford Down in 1992, I have
been an active
participant in the roads and related protest movement from its beginnings. My
unique status as
researcher" (Roseneil 1995) is an invaluable resource, in terms of the
experience of and
contacts within the movement I possess, and the trust and subsequent access my
enables me to utilise for the gathering of ethnographic detail.(see
Direct Action roads protests evolved at Twyford Down in 1992. Within a year a
comprising hundreds of people had been mobilised and other protest camps
up across the
country. The protests and the issues they raise are now extremely high profile
(as at Newbury,
Fairmile, Manchester Airport). Whilst roads have been the primary focus of
protest, from 1992
onwards the Non Violent Direct Action movement has been, consciously, "multi
issue" and has
campaigned about, for example, Shell Oil, arms sales, quarrying, genetic
Proactive, as well as reactive, campaigns also figure prominently, from small-
permaculture co-op projets to large scale collective
actions such as This Land Is Ours and Diggers "land-
squats". Recent strategic developments within the movement
include a move to more locally- based, community actions
by protesters spread across the country, slightly shifting
the focus away from massive national campaigns; a rise in
the profile of anti genetic engineering campaigns as the
major focus of movement activity, and a continued process
of affiliation with a range of other campaigns and groups.
Aims of the Research
To examine, through the life histories of a number of protesters, the
Firstly, what action is being taken, and how is it being taken- i.e. actions
and tactics such
as office occupations, protest camps, destruction of GM crop sites etc.
Lifestyle as a
strategy (e.g. communal living, travelling) may also be a factor. The primary
aim is to
ascertain why these actions are being taken, through an analysis of the
meanings given to
action, and the motivations, the actors themselves identify. The aim, to
discover and analyse
what motivates people to take action, will be addressed from a combination of
micro, meso and
macro perspectives (Roseneil 95, Wall 99)- ie an analysis of the
opportunity, friendship networks etc. will combine with an examination of the
personal story and worldview. Based on the analysis of the actors motivations,
project also aims to address some of the questions regarding New Social
specifically to what extent the environmental direct action movement can be
said to be
in the process of constructing a shared, communally held, worldview - to what
extent is there
a commonly held identity based on the shared construction of the meaning given
to action. Here
the research will draw on the work of Klandermans (1992), Snow and Benford
(1986), Eyerman and
Jamieson (1991), Melucci (1989) amongst others.
That ideologies and motivations are clarified and inspired by the taking of
Based on the above hypothesis, and on the actions being taken, that the
movement is in
an "organic" process of constructing shared meanings.
All qualitative data collated will be anonymised as a matter of course on the
wishes of the
activists already consulted.
Relevance of the Research
1) This research accords with the ESRCs thematic priority no.2 "Environment
", specifically in relation to the issues identified under the heading
the Environment. It also accords with thematic priority no.8.
2) This research will profile the perspectives, motivations and actions of
questions about where the movement has come from, where it is going and why,
3) Grounded in the actors own histories and perspectives, the ethnographic
research will provide will be invaluable to those (academics and others)
seeking to understand
the radical ecology direct action movement. Very little contemporary research
of this kind has
been done, and the NSM literature needs putting into the context of the
movement in Britain. A prominent theme at the (1997) Alternative Futures and
conference was the identification of this lack of ethnographic detail as set
against the mass
of often speculative theory. A pressing need to identify the issues which
inform the protest
movement from the perspectives of the actors themselves was identified. This
and its methodologies are located in this context, of analysing - and
through an examination of movement practise.
4)This research also aims to be of interest to the activists themselves, both
activists and those more traditional pressure groups, NGOs, seeking to
movement and its implications.
Qualitative methodologies, specifically participant observation, and in-depth
histories of key informants, will be undertaken. By building on the knowledge
contacts I already have with protest activists, but taking a more distanced
stance as a researcher towards them, I intend to produce a well grounded and
ethnographic account of a distinctive form of political action of considerable
The research methodology, and my status as a researcher, have close
correlations with feminist/
critical theorist epistemologies, in that the research aims to produce
oppositional movement with which I myself have a partisan, although not
identification. The methodological approach will thus engage with the
and personal biography. The methodology and my status as a partisan insider
are located in the feminist tradition which states that; partisanship is an
of any research process, and given that there are also methodological
disadvantages, it can
be an invaluable tool of the research process. This is perhaps particularly so
in the context
of my own research, given the nature of the radical ecology direct action
movement where trust
and access are significant issues.
Research will focus on individuals who have been active for at least two
Part of the rationale for this is to discover whether the perspectives of
have changed or developed over time, and whether these changes (if identified)
to a development, or change of focus, in the motivations for action, protest
or lifestyle choices these individuals have made. The primary goal is to
perspectives of committed activists, as opposed to focusing on the
whose involvement may be more short lived/ transitory. I anticipate that
key informants will in turn snowball other likely candidates.
Sources being consulted/theoretical background
I am currently in year one of this PhD project and am conducting a literature
in the relevant fields, building on the archive sources used during my MA.
Literature in the
following areas has been, and will continue to be, comprehensively reviewed:
1) NSM literature including Tilly, Klandermanns, Kreisi, Melucci, Snow and
Benford, Eyerman and
Jamieson, Tarrow, dellaPorta, Habermas, Gramsci and others.
2)Ecophilosophy (deep ecology, ecofeminism etc)/ environment and development
including writers such as Naess, Plumwood, Shiva, Bookchin, Goulet.
3) Contemporary academics writing on British protest from a cultural,
ideological perspective including Pepper, Purkis, Doherty, McKay, Wall,
, Seel amongst others.
4) literature relating to the methodological practise of qualitative
perspectives re. the methodological implications of partisan, reflexive
include Harding, Mies, Roseneil, Hammersley and Atkinson, Bouma and Atkinson,
5) "underground", "DIY" publications, flyers, Internet sites etc produced by
itself will be a crucial aspect of the data archive process. Such
Schnews, Squall, the Earth First! journal Do or Die!, the Genetic
updates, the smaller publications produced by local campaign groups. Websites
such as the
Earth First! website, the Reclaim the Streets website.
YEAR ONE (currently under way). Renewing contacts with interviewees;
and sample interview outlines through test study interviews; ongoing
literature review and
archive research. Structural outline of PhD under way, i.e. how material is to
Some initial writing up of material collated.
YEAR TWO Data collection: participant observation, combined with in-depth
interviews with key informants. These will be undertaken in a series of three-
to - four week
blocks. As a result of snowballing, I anticipate undertaking additional
other movement activists. Literature review will be ongoing and results
YEAR THREE To be spent analysing and writing up the data collated;
restructuring of material
if appropriate. Additional interviews if required.
I have been awarded my MA in Social Research and Sociology. This training has
invaluable in terms of acquiring research skills and a thorough grounding in
methodologies. My MA dissertation focused exclusively on the methodological
(pragmatic and epistemological) of being a partisan insider researcher, and
between researcher/researched. I have undertaken an Information Searching
and am now fully conversant with search programmes such as BIDS, ASSIA and
I have also completed an Information Technology course and run Windows
programmes, use email
and the Internet as everyday research tools, for example sending and receiving
the Social Movements network (a network linking interested academics for
I am currently in year one of this PhD project, studying at the University of
I have taught several seminars on the subjects of community, empowerment and
in the last two years. I have also been teaching a course module on feminist
thinking run by
the sociology department.
Book Chapter: Earth First! in Britain in DIY Culture: Party and Protest in
(ed George McKay), Verso 1998.
Book Chapter currently being written for Direct Action in British
Environmentalism (ed Doherty,
Patterson and Seele) forthcoming Routledge 2000.
1998 Paper Earth First! strategies- Reform and Revolution? given at the
and British Environmentalism conference at Keele University.
1997 Paper Roads Protest/ Earth First! and "multi issue" New Social
Beyond the dualisms of the red/green debate in Barker, C (ed) Alternative
and Popular Protest, Manchester Metropolitan University
1997 Paper given at the Rural Economy and Society Study Group Conference,
university of Wales,
1995 Paper Eco Philosophy and Popular Protest', in Barker, C. (ed.)
Alternative Futures and
Popular Protest 1, Manchester Metropolitan University.
sop04a at bangor.ac.uk
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