Social movement theory and the Italian radical community archives: A question of valence?

  • Mark Howard Monash University


The theory and practice of the radical community, and a capacity for self-organisation, demonstrates the ability to control the symbols and language of society, to define new conventions of meaning, and to offer alternative reasons and explanations for action. However, the predominant sociological account of Italian social movements of the 1960s and 1970s censures potentially relevant discursive practices of the radical community. This is evidenced by the lack of diversity amongst the epistemic sources of Anglo American Social Movement Theory (SMT). The assumptions in play in disciplinary thought disqualify the practice and theory of radical social movements as a credible mode of analysis of the social and political condition. Ultimately, this discounts the radical subject as knowledge producer. By reflecting on my personal experience of conducting doctoral research at three key community archives in Italy I contemplate an alternative approach, which considers the valence of these radical communities as essentially epistemological and not simply ‘political’, or social.

Author Biography

Mark Howard, Monash University
Mark Howard, PhD, is a teaching and reserach associate with the School of Philosophical, historical and International Studies, Monash University, Clayton Austrlia: