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Collective Action and Political Transformations

The Entangled Experiences in Brazil, South Africa and Europe

Aurea Mota, Peter Wagner

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Takes lessons from the Global South to explore the possibilities for positive political action worldwide

Collective action in our current global situation is often associated with growing intolerance, xenophobia and exclusion, or it is regarded as incapable of making a real and positive difference in the lives of individuals. This book acknowledges the severe problems with effective and significant collective action, but it arrives at a more optimistic diagnosis of our time by rethinking the political from the angle of the experiences with progressive and conservative collective action in different parts of the globe: Brazil, South Africa and Europe. By doing so, it contributes a critical perspective to the debate about the possible impact that the Global South could have for positive social and political developments worldwide.

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Collective Action and Political Transformation: An Introduction

1. Politics and Modernity under Contemporary Conditions

Part I: Trajectories of Modernity: How We Arrived At Where We Are

2. Historical Interpretations of Modernity and Their Trajectories

3. An Asymmetrically Consolidated Modernity

4. Transformations of Modernity through Critique and Contestation

Part II: Freedom, Equality, Solidarity

5. Democracy and Capitalism

6. Inclusion and Exclusion

7. Political Equality and Social Inequality

Part III: Enlarging the Scope of Political Action

8. The Amazon, the Rhino and the Blue Sky over the Ruhr

9. Violence, Autonomy and Everyday Life in Democracies

Part IV: Rethinking the Possibilities of Political Agency

10. Democracy in Transformation

11. Entangled Histories, Possible Futures – South and North



About the Author

Aurea Mota is Full Professor in Political Theory in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. Her main research interests lie in comparative-historical sociology. Sobre Metamorfoses e Adapatações, her first book, was published by the Latin American Research Council (CLACSO) in 2013.

Peter Wagner is Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies Research Professor at the University of Barcelona. His publications include The Trouble with Democracy (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), African, American and European Trajectories of Modernity (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), Modernity as Experience and Interpretation (Polity Press, 2008), A History and Theory of the Social Sciences (Sage, 2001), Theorising Modernity (Sage, 2001) and A Sociology of Modernity (Routledge, 1994).


What is the future of collective political action when democracies have been reduced to systems for aggregating individual opinions? Mota and Wagner answer this critical question of our age with a rich comparative analytics of globalisation. This is a timely and important book which makes a compelling argument for the retrieval of consent grounded in institutions which are sensitive to the specificity of conflict. 

- Michael Power, London School of Economics and Political Science

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