© 2015

Rebel Friendships

“Outsider” Networks and Social Movements

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 17-34
  3. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 35-74
  4. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 75-84
  5. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 85-100
  6. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 101-114
  7. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 115-128
  8. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 141-158
  9. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 159-169
  10. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 171-185
  11. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 187-197
  12. Benjamin Shepard
    Pages 199-216
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 217-235

About this book


Rebel Friendships considers the interplay between individuals and their friendships with social movements. The intersections between individual and community, the ways we experiment with social change, explore, create, and reduce the harms of modern living are the work of social movements. Yet, the process is rarely simple. Through auto-ethnographic reflections of experiences with the Beats, ACT-UP, Occupy Wall Street, anti-consumer, queer rights, and non-polluting transportation movements Shepard explores the way friendship infuses social movements with the social capital necessary to move bodies of ideas forward. Such innovation is rarely seen in more institutionalized social arrangements. Rebel Friendships offers a new take on the ties between friends who are connected through affinity and efforts aimed at social change.


Protest Recall social change

About the authors

Benjamin Shepard is Associate Professor at New York City College of Technology at the City University of New York, USA.

Bibliographic information


"Rebel Friendships delves deep into a phenomenon that every activist, and student of activism, is aware of, but not enough of us acknowledge: at the core of every collective and at the center of every social movement are individual friendships radical friendships. Kudos to Shepard for writing this perceptive and moving book!" - Stephen Duncombe, Professor of Media and Culture, New York University, USA, and Co-Director, Center of Artistic Activism

"Rebel Friendships is a masterpiece, weaving together the lived experiences of activists critical to important movements for social justice. In lucid prose, Shepard vividly details the dialectical interplay among key individuals engaged in activism through friendships the magical elixir of sustainable movement making. This compelling analysis is a must read! " - Ron Hayduck, Professor of Political Science, Queens College, City University of New York, USA

"Friendship is a central social and psychological force in people's lives. Yet it also has political dimensions, as Shepard so vividly demonstrates. Through his own personal stories, and interviews and biographies of friends, Shepard gives meaning to the oft-quoted feminist phrase that 'the personal is political.' In Rebel Friendships, we experience the many profound ways friends create community activism, develop families of choice, mentor each other, and perform rituals. This is indeed the book that illustrates the transformative political and personal power of friendships." Peter M. Nardi, author of Gay Men's Friendships: Invincible Communities (1999)

"Shepard's big-hearted book is a galvanizing reminder that the search for and maintenance of human connections lie at the center of any valid fight for change. Through well-researched historical analysis and engaging personal anecdotes, Shepard reimagines community organizing by simply reminding us who we have been, who we are, and who we can become. This book makes me want to befriend everyone." - Reverend Micah Bucey, Associate Minister, Judson Memorial Church, USA

"Rebel Friendships is a necessary contribution to contemporary radical social movements and the literatures that discuss them. Part memoir, part scholarly analysis, and part political assessment, in this book Shepard reminds us, earnestly, that productive struggles from below require the engines of trust, love, and mutual aid that define 'friendship.' Throughout the case studies and reflections here, Shepard offers powerful examples of the ways that friendship has played a decisive role in radical social struggles throughout recent history, and how friendship will be the foundation of our efforts toward building a better future. " - Craig Hughes, Team Colors Collective