Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 183–198 | Cite as

Considering the urban commons: anthropological approaches to social movements

  • Ida Susser

Here, I review the particular strains of anthropology over the past 50 years that have provided the fundamental approaches to social transformation. I argue that recent forms of commoning need to be taken into account in the formulation of an anthropological theory of social movements. First, I discuss the activist background of most anthropologists studying social movements. Next, after outlining three main themes of progressive anthropology, the paper considers the ways in which anthropology has provided alternative visions of social relations with respect to gender and egalitarian societies and how these resonate with contemporary visions of horizontalism and the commons. The main body of the paper, then, selectively and a little idiosyncratically, reviews the study of social movements in terms of what Eric Wolf might have called historical materialism and the frameworks which have emerged in the interaction of anthropologists with social historians. Finally, the paper suggests...


Social Movement Social Transformation Egalitarian Society Nuclear Disarmament Manchester School 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hunter College and the Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.New YorkUSA

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