Social Movements in Advanced Capitalism: The Political Economy and Cultural Construction of Social Activism

By Steven M. Buechler | Go to book overview

6
Local Structures and Social Movements The Politics of Everyday Life

The final level of sociohistorical structure is the "local" level of interpersonal relations and lived experience. In some respects, this level can be most sharply distinguished from the other three. Global, national, and regional structures are elongated through social time and space; they involve centuries of history and thousands of miles. As such, they dwarf individual experience with all the classic characteristics of transcendent, eternal, and omnipotent Durkheimian social facts. Local structures, by contrast, are compressed in social time and space because they involve slices of social reality that are meaningful from the perspective of individual biography. Local structures thereby raise phenomenological and social-psychological issues concerning consciousness, identity, and interaction. Although some sociological traditions have made helpful contributions to understanding this level of social reality, sociological theory has, for the most part, divorced its analyses of macro-and microlevel structures. This has begun to change in the past 20 years, as more and more approaches seeking to integrate or synthesize our understanding of micro- and macrolevels of social reality have appeared. In the following section, I very briefly review some of the more promising approaches for characterizing local levels of microstructure, with a view toward how these are linked both to other structural levels and to prevailing forms of social activism.


THE LOCAL LEVEL OF SOCIOHISTORICAL STRUCTURE

The Social Construction of Reality

One such approach is rooted in social phenomenology as a foundation for understanding the social construction of reality ( Berger and Luckmann, 1967). A

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