The Contours  of Solidarity and

Division Among Global movements

 

 

Christopher Chase-Dunn, Christine Petit, Richard Niemeyer,

Robert A. Hanneman, Rebecca Giem, Erika Gutierrez and Ellen Reese

Department of Sociology and Institute for Research on World-Systems

University of California-Riverside

Riverside, CA 92521-0419

Draft v. 8-8-06  5790 words

Abstract: We are studying the contours of solidarity and division among the transnational social movements that represent the progressive forces of global civil society. We want to examine the relative sizes of these movements, their growth or decline over time, and the structure of links and disconnection among them. We also are interested in locating movements (and individuals) that may serve as bridges between otherwise disconnected movements. We use evidence from a network study of Internet materials that was done in 2004 and compare it with a similarly constructed study done in 2006 to study change over time. And we will compare the Web results with evidence of intermovement links of individuals obtained from a survey of participants the 2005 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in a future version of this paper. We also present evidence of the geographical distribution of home places of those individuals who answered our 2005 survey. The network analysis of transnational social movements shows that the human rights and environmental movements serve as hubs connecting the other movements to one another.

Paper to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association session on transnational social networks organized by Barry Wellman and Wenhong Chen, Sunday, August 13, 2006 at 4:30 pm, Montreal. 

Paper is available at http://irows.ucr.edu/papers/irows26/irows26.htm

           


            This paper examines the geographical space that is represented by participants in the Porto Alegre World Social Forum of 2005 and the organizational space of the movements in which the progressive elements of global civil society participate. The World Social Forum, despite official statements that decry any effort to represent humanity as a whole, tries to be geographically and topically inclusive. Here and in other papers[1] we present results that shed light on the extent to which this effort has been successful. And we also seek to understand the structure of connections among progressive transnational movements. For this purpose we analyze both the results obtained from a survey of participants in the WSF05 in Porto Alegre and a network analysis of materials published on the World Wide Web. We compare the contours of the social movement connections found among WSF participants with the structure that emerges when we examine links between movements as represented by web pages.

            From whence did the participants in the 2005 WSF in Porto Alegre come? Our survey is not a perfectly representative sample of the participants, though we tried to make it as representative as possible given the limitations of collecting responses during the meetings. Based on the 520 survey responses for which we were able to ascertain the respondent’s home residence, Figure 1 shows a global map of where they came from. There were 163 cities plotted on this GIS map.

           

Figure 1: Main residences of participants in the 2005 WSF in Porto Alegre

 

            Obviously the “tyranny of distance,” despite the long-term cheapening costs of long-distance transportation, continues to be a major factor in shaping the geographical nature of participation in the WSF. This can even be seen within South America. Forty-three percent of the participants came from Brazil. The apparent lack of attendance from Canada in Figure 1 is due to those attending coming from cities that border the U.S. Eighteen of our respondents were from Canada, representing 2.8% of the total number of respondents mapped. None of our respondents were from the Peoples Republic of China, except for the five from Hong Kong. Table 1 shows the home region of the respondents of our survey.


 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frequency

Percent

South America

439

68.7

Western Europe

67

10.5

North America (w/out Mexico)

53

8.3

Asia

48

7.5

Africa

9

1.4

Central American and Caribbean

7

1.1

Oceania (Australia & NZL)

2

.3

Total

625

97.8

Table 1: Region of residence of WSF05 respondents

 

            Asia and Africa are the most seriously under-represented world regions. Of course it is not just the tyranny of distance that skews the participation in an event such as the World Social Forum. People from different regions also have very different financial resources and connectivity to “global” civil society.  Table 2 shows the number and percentages of respondents from the core, periphery and semiperiphery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Core

125

19.6

Semiperiphery

451

70.6

Periphery

49

7.7

Total

625

97.8

Table 2: Residence of respondents by world-system zone

 

            The core is not very over-represented, but the periphery, which contains the bulk of the world’s population, is seriously under-represented. That is one reason why the 2007 World Social Forum will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.[2]

 

            Our survey research at the 2005 World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre examined the relationships among eighteen transnational social movements by asking participants at the WSF with which movements do they strongly identify and in which movements are they actively involved. There is a large scholarly literature on networks within and between social movements.[3] Our approach is generally motivated by world-systems analysis of world revolutions (Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000) and Antonio Gramsci’s analysis of ideological hegemony, counter-hegemonic movements and the formation of historical blocks [see also Carroll and Ratner(1996) and Carroll (2006a, 2006b)].

We used research by Starr (2000), Fisher and Ponniah (2003) and Petit (2004) to construct a list of social movements that we believed would be represented at the 2005 World Social Forum. The item that we used in our questionnaire is as follows:


Check all of the following movements with which you:

(a) strongly identify:                                                    (b) are actively involved in:

oAlternative media/culture                                                             oAlternative media/culture

oAnarchist                                                                                        oAnarchist

oAnti-corporate                                                                               oAnti-corporate

oAnti-globalization                                                                          oAnti-globalization

oAlternative Globalization/Global Justice                                    oAlternative Globalization/Global Justice

oHuman Rights/Antiracism                                                            oHuman Rights/Antiracism

oCommunist                                                                                      oCommunist

oEnvironmental                                                                                oEnvironmental

oFair Trade/Trade Justice                                                               oFair Trade/Trade Justice

oGay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer Rights   oGay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer Rights  

oHealth/HIV                                                                                      oHealth/HIV

oIndigenous                                                                                     oIndigenous

oLabor                                                                                               oLabor

oNational Sovereignty/National Liberation oNational Sovereignty/National Liberation

oPeace/Anti-war                                                                              oPeace/Anti-war

oFood Rights/Slow Food                                                               oFood Rights/Slow Food

oSocialist                                                                                           oSocialist

oWomen's/Feminist                                                                         oWomen's/Feminist

oOther(s), Please list _______________________                 oOther(s), Please list ____________

We asked participants which of these movements they strongly identify with and with which are they actively involved.  And we also asked them to identify pairs of movements that “have the most important contradictions between their goals and/or interests.”[4]

Background Characteristics of WSF05 Participants

To our knowledge, Fundacao Perseu Abramo’s (FPA) survey of participants at the 2001 WSF meeting and our own survey of participants of the 2005 meeting are the only two systematic surveys of WSF participants.  Our survey focused on the social characteristics of participants, their political activism, and their political views. We collected a total of 639 surveys in three languages (English, Spanish, and Portuguese).[5] Although we were unable to survey all linguistic groups, we sought to ensure that we had a broad sample of WSF participants; we conducted our survey at a wide variety of venues, including the registration line, the opening march, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s speech (which drew tens of thousands), various kinds of thematic workshops, solidarity tents at multiple locations, outdoor concerts, and the youth camp.

Our six-page survey asks participants’ opinions on a set of questions designed to capture the main political divisions within the global justice movement described in previous research (Byrd 2005; Smith 2004c; Brecher, Costello, and Smith 2002; Starr 2000; Ponniah and Fisher 2003; Teivainen 2004).  [6]

            FPA found that in 2001 most respondents were from South America followed by Western Europe; fifty-five percent were Brazilian (Schönleitner 2003: 137).  In our 2005 sample, which showed an almost identical composition, most respondents were from South America (69%), followed by Western Europe (10%) and North America (8%); fifty-five percent were Brazilian. Only 7% of all respondents were from Asia and less than 2% were from Africa.

Like FPA’s 2001 survey, we found that there were slightly more men than women among our respondents.  FPA found that most of their respondents were highly educated, with 73% having begun or finished their university education and that 75% were trained in the social sciences (Schönleitner 2003: 137).  Similarly, we found that 50% had at least 16 years of education and that 57% were students, mostly in universities. We found that nearly 51% of those with educational degrees were trained in the social sciences.

Research suggests that most WSF participants identify as being left of center in their political orientation and are politically active. FPA found that 81% of their respondents identified as leftists, extreme leftists, or center leftists, with 60% identifying as part of the left (Schönleitner 2003: 129).  Likewise, we found that most of our respondents expressed leftist views.  In contrast to claims that the WSF has been coopted by moderate forces, the majority of WSF participants that we surveyed expressed a desire to abolish and replace capitalism.  Our survey also found that 66% of respondents participated in at least two protests in the past year, with nearly one-third participating in five or more protests.  Most respondents claimed that they actively participated in at least two social movements.

Transnational Movements at the WSF

          The size distribution of the eighteen movements in terms of number of participants who say they are actively involved[7] is as follows:

 

number of selections

% of total selections

alternative media/culture

133

10%

anarchist

20

1.50%

anti-corporate

43

3%

anti-globalization

68

5%

global justice

81

6%

human rights

161

12%

communist

32

2%

environmental

142

11%

fair trade

67

5%

queer rights

37

3%

health/HIV

52

4%

indigenous

48

4%

labor

72

6%

national liberation

38

3%

peace

113

9%

slow food

38

3%

socialist

87

7%

feminist

66

5%

total

1298

100%

Table 3: total numbers and percentages of movements selected as actively involved

Figure 2: Percentage of movements selected as actively involved

            Table 3 and Figure 2 show the relative size distribution of the indications by respondents of movements in which they are actively involved. The four big ones are alternative media/culture; human rights, environmental and peace. The little ones are anarchist, communist, queer rights, national liberation and slow food. Some activists do not participate in the World Social Forum or hold counter-events and this might account for the small numbers of some movements. It is said that anarchists do not fill out questionnaires, but we had very few refusals and 20 anarchists did fill out our questionnaire.

            We also analyzed the responses to the question about strong identification with movements to compare these with the actively involved question. Table A1 in the appendix shows the numbers and percentages of those movements selected as strongly identified. Table A1 is directly comparable to Table 3 above. This shows that more than twice as many people indicate identification as opposed to participation, but the percentages are very similar, and the network results on the identification matrix are very similar to those found for active participation. The UCINet QAP routine for correlating two network matrices produces a Pearson’s r correlation coefficient of .909 between the identification and participation matrices.

            We use two different approaches to analyzing the structure of connections among the movements at the WSF05: bivariate correlations and formal network analysis. First we examine the Spearman’s rho bivariate correlations among the pairs of movements in which respondents say they are actively involved. Among these 306 correlations (18x18=324-18 on the diagonal of the matrix) there are only seven that are negative, and these are small and not statistically significant.

            This is to be expected from a list of movements that was constructed on the basis of expected participation by progressive people who attend the World Social Forum. Seventy-eight of the correlations are positive and statistically significant at the .01 level. The correlations are not high. The largest correlation is .488 between the anti-globalization and the anti-corporate movements. The other significant positive correlations (above .3) are anti-corporate/alternative globalization; anti-corporate/peace; and queer rights/health-HIV.[8]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Number of movements involved  

Frequency

Valid Percent

.00

112

20.0

1.00

130

23.2

2.00

96

17.1

3.00

89

15.9

4.00

41

7.3

5.00

35

6.3

6.00

16

2.9

7.00

18

3.2

8.00

11

2.0

9.00

3

.5

10.00

2

.4

11.00

3

.5

12.00

1

.2

13.00

1

.2

14.00

2

.4

Total

560

100.0

Table 4: Number of movements in which respondents are actively involved

            Table 4 above shows that twenty per cent (112) of the respondents do not check any of the eighteen movements to indicate active involvement. But only eight respondents (1.3%) checked no movements with which they are strongly identified[9], so we think that the question about active involvement acted as a high bar that was respected by respondents. One hundred and thirty (23.2%) indicated that they were involved with only one movement, and 17.6% are involved with two movements. The correlations among movements reported above are based on the patterns of choices of those 418 respondents who say that they are involved in two or more movements.  Whereas few respondents indicated that they were actively involved in more than eight movements, more significant numbers indicate involvement in from three to seven movements. These respondents who are involved in multiple movements may be more likely to be synergists who see the global connections between different movements and who are more likely to play an active role in facilitating collective action within the larger “movement of movements.”[10]  

 

Table 5:  Numbers of linkages among movements based on those who say they are active participants in more than one movement (the diagonal contains the number of respondents who actively participate in each movement as shown in Table 3 above)

            The square matrix shown in Table 5 is produced by UCINet for purposes of formal network analysis. Network analysis is superior to bivariate correlation analysis because it allows the whole structure of a network to be analyzed including all the direct and indirect links and non-links. This makes it possible to identify cliques or factions within a network and to examine the centrality or peripherality of network nodes – in this case social movements. The diagonal contains all the participants who say they are strongly identified with each movement – the same numbers that are used in Table 3 and Figure 2 above. The row totals add up to more than the total selections for each group on the diagonal because 57% of the participants say they are active in two or more movements and these are counted more than once in the sums of movement pairs.

 

            One interesting feature of the matrix shown in Table 5 above is that there are no empty cells and the lowest number in the whole matrix is two – the number of anarchists who also actively participate in a national liberation movement. This reiterates what we inferred above based on correlations, that these movements are basically complementary with one another. But there are still may be different degrees of complementarity and connectedness. The average number of links per movement pair is 16.

                A core is characterized as a set of nodes possessing a high density of connections amongst themselves, while the periphery is characterized as possessing few interconnections.  The consequence of such a structural condition is that nodes located within the core are often capable of greater coordinated action and a greater mobilization of resources, while nodes in the periphery are not. 

 

multiplicative coreness

alternative media/culture

0.3

anarchist

0.07

anti-corporate

0.18

anti-globalization

0.25

global justice

0.27

human rights

0.44

communist

0.1

environmental

0.35

fair trade

0.23

queer rights

0.12

health/HIV

0.16

indigenous

0.17

labor

0.2

national liberation

0.13

peace

0.36

slow food

0.15

socialist

0.19

feminist

0.2

mean

0.22

standard deviation

0.09

 

Table 6: Multiplicative Coreness and peripherality in the network of transnational social movements

Figure 3: Multiplicative Coreness in the Movement Network

            The mean level of coreness for the social movements is .22, with a standard deviation of .09.  Based upon +/- one standard deviation, Human Rights, Environmental, and Peace groups represent the core, and Anarchist, Communist, and Queer Rights groups are the periphery. 

            It is obvious from comparing Figure 4 with Figure 6 that there is a high correlation (Pearson’s r = .94) between the number of respondents who select a movement and the movement’s coreness in the movement network.  This would be different in a network that had strong cliques or factions, but that is not the case with this network. We used UCINet’s Factions routine to locate factions within the network of active participation and the identification network.  The Factions routine permits the identification of subgroups with valued data, whereas clique analysis in UCINet requires dichotomization of data values (0s and 1s). The result when two factions are specified produced a division between a large central faction and a small faction of peripheral movements. This suggests what examination of Figure 5 (below) also implies – that there are not strong subgroups within the family of anti-systemic movements.

            Most of the routines in formal network analysis require dichotomized data, and this necessitates sometimes arbitrary decisions about cutting points when valued data are available. One approach is to use different cutting points. The average number of linkages between movement pairs in Table 5 is 16 with a standard deviation of 10 linkages.  For the analysis carried out here, data was dichotomized at a cut-off point demarcated at one standard deviation above the mean of the average number of linkages for each movement.  This was done not only to exploit the full capabilities of the UCINET software, but also because of the nature of the WSF data.  There exists a large overlap of group membership between social movements such that practically all of the social movements share at least 2 members with another group (see above).  By setting the cut-off point one standard deviation above the mean differences in the degree of overlap are emphasized.  A drawback of this is that the Anarchist, Queer Rights, National Sovereignty, and Communist movements are dropped from the analysis.  

 

           

Figure 4: Lambda Grouping for Transnational Networks (Cut off Greater Than 1 s.d. above the mean)

            A lambda grouping identifies those nodes in a network that, if removed, would result in the largest decomposition of its structure.  In other words, these are the nodes possessing the largest number of connections with other nodes in the network.  At the one standard deviation dichtomization point, the most important nodes in the network of movements are the Environmental and Human Rights groups. 

 

Figure 5:  The network of WSF movement linkages.

            This is the structure of the network of WSF social movements using the one standard deviation above the mean dichotomization point.  All of the groups are connected by only one degree of separation, except for the Anarchist, Communist, and Queer Rights movements. They not included in the graph due because they fall below the dichotomization point in terms of movement size.

            Figure 5 shows the centrality of Human Rights and the Environmental Movement in the network of transnational social movements represented at the World Social Forum. It also indicates that the Peace, Alternative Media, Anti-Globalization and Global Justice movements are fairly central. The overall structure is multicentric, and not very hierarchical. No movement occupies a role that would allow it to call the shots. This network structure reinforces the often-made observation among activists that diversity and tolerance are an important aspect of the ability of the movement of movements to undertake collective action (e.g. Amin 2006)

Internet Pages and Social Movements

            Christine Petit (2004) conducted a Google search engine project to study networks among social movements as represented by texts available on the World Wide Web in 2004. She has recently replicated her study in order to make it possible to ascertain change over time and so that we can compare the results with our survey evidence from the World Social Forum of 2005.

           

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

 

July 04

Web hits

% of total

July04

%movement

selections at WSF05

July06 web hits

% of total July06

% 04-06 change in hits

anarchist movement

25,100

1.7%

1.50%

395,000

1.5%

0%

anti-corporate movement

1,780

.1%

3%

15,100

.05%

-.05%

anti-globalization movement

30,300

2%

5%

291,000

1%

-1%

global justice movement

11,500

.8%

6%

112,000

.4%

-.4%

human rights movement

36,500

2.5%

12%

362,000

1.4%

-1.1%

communist movement

40,000

2.7%

2%

425,000

1.6%

-1.1%

environmental movement

146,000

10%

11%

2,820,000

11%

1%

fair trade/trade justice movement

14,830

 

1%

5%

159,200

.6%

-.4%

gay rights movement

37,100

2.5%

3%

1,830,000

7%

4.5%

indigenous movement

8,090

.5%

4%

120,000

.5%

0%

labor movement/labour

400,000

27%

6%

6,220,000

24%

-3%

national liberation/sovereignty movement

21,610

 

 

1.5%

3%

87,600

.3%

-1.2%

peace/anti-war movement

382,000

26%

9%

7,950,000

31%

5%

slow food movement

10,500

.7%

3%

199,000

.8%

.1%

socialist movement

52,000

3.5%

7%

952,000

4%

.5%

women's movement/feminist

266,000

18%

5%

3,940,000

15%

-3%

total

1,483,310

 

 

25,877,900

 

 

 

Table 7: Internet hits in 2004 and 2006 compared with movement sizes obtained from survey questionnaires at the World Social Forum in 2005.[11]

 

            For Table 7 we combined the fair trade movement and trade justice movement web hits to make the Petit study comparable with the WSF survey, and did the same with national liberation movement and the sovereignty movement. 

 

            The comparison between web hits and movement choices at the WSF (Columns B,C and E) show that the relative sizes are rather similar for ten of the sixteen movements that are compared. This establishes a baseline of comparability between these two very different sources of information about movement linkages.

            Six of the movements display what appear to be significant differences between web texts and numbers of activists at the World Social Forum. Human rights, global justice, indigenous and fair trade are better represented at the WSF than on the web.  Labor, peace and feminism are significantly less represented at the WSF than on the web. 

            Looking at the change scores for the web hits in Column F, we see that the biggest increases are in gay rights (4.5%) and the peace movement (5%).[12] The women’s movement and the labor movement have gone down by 3%, but the rest of the movements have stayed about the same in percentage terms while the total numbers of hits increased dramatically between 2004 and 2006. The general stability of the relative sizes despite the rapid growth over the two year period and fairly good match with the WSF survey data increases our confidence that we are measuring something significant about the discursive space of transnational movements with the Internet results.

            What remains is to use the same network techniques used above on the WSF results to look at the overall network structure of movements revealed by the Internet results and to compare these with the WSF results presented above. Stay tuned.

Appendix A:

 

number of selections

% of total selections

alternative media/culture

295

9%

anarchist

51

1.50%

anti-corporate

116

3.5%

anti-globalization

180

5%

global justice

197

6%

human rights

368

10%

communist

71

2%

environmental

316

10%

fair trade

190

6%

queer rights

90

3%

health/HIV

147

4%

indigenous

178

5%

labor

156

5%

national liberation

115

3.5%

peace

298

9%

slow food

154

5%

socialist

187

6%

feminist

172

5%

total

3281

98.5%

Table A1: total numbers and percentages of movements selected as strongly identified

Table A2:  Number of linkages between groups based on those who say they strongly identify with more than one group (the diagonal contains the number of respondents who strongly identify with each movement) Table A2 is directly comparable with Table 5 above.

 

 

 

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[1]See Giem and Gutierrez (2006) and Reese et al (2006)

[2] In a later version of this paper we will compare the home places of participants with the headquarters locations of the organizations on the International Council of the WSF.

[3] For a useful summary and overview see Carroll and Ratner (1996).

[4] In a future version of this paper we will compare the responses to the question about movement contradictions to the movement network results reported below.

[5] Our project web page contains our 2005 survey instrument. See http://www.irows.ucr.edu/research/tsmstudy.htm

[6] We do not know how representative our sample of participants is of all the people who attended the World Social Forum in 2005 despite our best efforts to make it representative. Our efforts to compare our results with official statistics from the WSF have not yet born fruit.

 

[7] These are based on respondent selection from the right column of the item displayed on p. 4 above.

[8] We worried that the presence of respondents who had not checked any of the movements might be lowering the correlations and reducing significance levels, and that some of these might be from incomplete questionnaires rather than real responses to the questions. Indeed 20% (112) of the respondents checked none of the movements as ones in which they were actively involved. But our fears were allayed by the fact that respondents were far more likely to have checked at least some movements with which they strongly identified (see question above on pp. 3-4). Only 1.3% (8) of the questionnaires had no movements selected as strongly identified.  This means that almost all of the 112 respondents who checked no movements as those in which they were actively involved were actually reporting a real situation and our results for the involvement matrix should be accurate.

[9] The left column of the survey page displayed above.

[10] In further research we will examine how these respondents with multiple links are similar or different from the general population of WSF participants.

 

[11] Petit included civil rights movements in her web study but we took it out of Table 7 because this term was not used in the WSF study. And she did not include health/HIV or alternative media in her study so these do not appear in Table 7.

[12] Both the gay rights and the peace movements have been especially salient public issues in the period from 2004 to 2006.