Global Visions and Grassroots Movements: An Anthropological Perspective


In the past decade many progressive anthropologists have been concerned with understanding the transformative possibilities of social movements in redefining and limiting the worldwide inroads of global capital. In emphasizing cultural transformation, Castells’ approach in The City and the Grassroots (1983) may help to conceptualize the idealistic and sometimes quixotic movements of the information age. Like Christopher Hill and other social historians, Castells seeks to understand culturally available paths and ideals that opened the possibilities for democracy, whether or not the visionaries succeeded at any particular historical moment. Today, working‐class solidarity is less clearly defined in the face of a rapidly shrinking and ever‐relocating manufacturing sector, while, at the same time, social provisions have been cut back and privatized. At the grey dawning of the twenty‐first century, in the face of US imperialist aggression and increasing global corporate wealth, Castells’ emphasis on the genesis of a new democratic vision as well as on mobilization around issues of collective consumption has become ever more salient.