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Defining and Analyzing “Resistance”: Possible Entrances to the Study of Subversive Practices

Journal article
Authors Mikael Baaz
Mona Lilja
Michael Schulz
Stellan Vinthagen
Published in Alternatives: Global, Local, Political
Volume 41
Issue 3
Pages 137-153
ISSN 0304-3754
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Law
Department of Sociology and Work Science
School of Global Studies
Pages 137-153
Language en
Keywords resistance, social change, power, theory, resistance studies
Subject categories Law, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


This article explores the meaning of “resistance” and suggests a new path for “resistance studies,” which is an emerging and interdisciplinary field of the social sciences that is still relatively fragmented and heterogeneous. Resistance has often been connected with antisocial attitudes, destructiveness, reactionary or revolutionary ideologies, unusual and sudden explosions of violence, and emotional outbursts. However, we wish to add to this conceptualization by arguing that resistance also has the potential to be productive, plural and fluid, and integrated into everyday social life. The first major part of the article is devoted to discuss existing understandings of resistance with the aim of seeking to capture distinctive features and boundaries of this social phenomenon. Among other things, we will explore resistance in relation to other key concepts and related research fields. We then, in the article’s second major part, propose a number of analytical categories and possible entrances aiming at inspire more in-depth studies of resistance.

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