Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3069: Globalisation and the Politics of Resistance

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.

Module Aims

The main aim of this module is to critically explore the theory and practice of contemporary forms of ‘resistance’ politics - including trade union movements, women’s movements, ecological movements, youth movements, indigenous peoples’ movements, anti-capitalist activism, ‘black power’ and anti-racist movements, religious fundamentalisms, human rights campaigns etc - in light of three lines of inquiry. First, it turns to the theoretical/conceptual underpinning of the notion of resistance and seeks to address the following three questions: 1) Who is the subject of resistance?; 2) Under what conditions does resistance emerge?; 3) What kinds of practices are involved in resistance politics? How do we know resistance when we see it?

Second, it aims to empirically map three forms of concrete activism, examining the historically specific conditions under which it emerged, the different actors involved, their practices as well as their impact. The three case studies that we study are voted on and decided by the class and the reading list that accompanies each is put together co-operatively by all the students. When assessing each case we will reach for a comparative perspective asking what, if any, common ground these movements share and what tensions separate them.

Third, in the last part of the course, we identify and reflect on some of the political and theoretical dilemmas thrown up by studying and practising resistance politics. For example, what do we mean by ‘progressive’ movements? Indeed, what are our criteria for deciding who is ‘progressive’ (good) and who is ‘reactionary’ (bad)? Another, related question concerns what are the appropriate strategies for bringing about social change? What strategies are politically effective and which ones are counterproductive? Moreover, in terms of moral considerations which strategies are justifiable and, more particularly, is violence ever justified? If so, when? Finally, who speaks for whom in a movement? Is there an inherent tension between efforts to open up and democratise a movement, on the one hand, and gain political representation and leverage among ‘the powers that be’, on the other? While I have identified three possible dilemmas here, I am open to discussing others if there is an interest.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the theoretical field of resistance politics;
2. demonstrate an empirical knowledge of particular contemporary social movements in world politics;
Discipline-Specific Skills3. demonstrate an ability to find, use and analyse a range of materials including major historical studies, IR and politics journals and news sources;
4. demonstrate an ability to critically analyse both empirical and theoretical material and to deploy theoretical arguments and 'apply' them to empirical case studies;
5. demonstrate an ability to articulate their own ethical and political points of view and defend them with well structured and rigorous arguments;
Personal and Key Skills6. demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively both formally in presentations and informally in class discussions;
7. demonstrate an ability to write clearly and coherently;
8. demonstrate an ability to work independently as well as in a team.