Weapons Of The Weak Essay

2163 words - 9 pages

Maiyo Shahrawan
POLB91
University of Toronto
Kevin Edmonds
03/10/16
Analyzing and Deciphering James Scott’s Concept of “Weapons Of The Weak”
There is an array of divergent groups, collectives and associations around the globe that consistently proceed to spread their opinions and display their presence in the largest scale possible. Among these factions include, social movements, social non-movements and civil society organizations. These groups have historically been successful in overcoming their oppressors and doing what is in their nature to complete the necessary tasks in order to have their voice heard by those they wish to protest to. Examples of mainstream social movements ...view middle of the document...

This is what James Scott refers to as “Weapons of The Weak”. Scott refers to weapons of the weak as an “everyday form of resistance” that occurs generally between periods of rebellion or direct uprising (Scott, 1985: 17). These situations occur especially in instances and societies where in which the power dynamic is uneven and the citizens who are being oppressed don’t have the freedom, confidence and/or power to directly protest against their oppressors. Scott proceeds to argue that weapons of the weak can be perceived as a “social movement with no formal organization, no manifestoes, no dues, no name, and no banner” (Scott, 1985: 35). This paper is going to use evidence from both James Scott’s piece and other scholarly articles and journals that this statement by Scott regarding weapons of the weak is actually true. Ultimately, weapons of the weak is an everyday form of resistance that does not have to specifically include organizations, banners, manifestoes, and/or a formal strategy, however can still stimulate protest and widespread action on as large a scale as possible.
Social movements can be defined as a type of formal or informal crowd action that can differ in size but ultimately rallies individuals together for a common belief. Social movements are organizations that tend to focus primarily on political and social issues and tend to fight for the induction or expulsion of certain social and political changes. Suzanne Staggenborg explains in her article the dynamic tactics and behavior social movement organizations use to have their voices heard by those they wish to protest to. She says in her piece, “Social movements around the world have used a wide variety of protest tactics to bring about enormous social changes, influencing cultural arrangements, public opinion, and government policies” (Staggenborg, 1). Charles Tilly however, explains how social movements commonly indulge in contentious politics by writing in his piece that social movements are, “contentious in the sense that social movements involve collective making of claims that, if realized, would conflict with someone else's interests, political in the sense that governments of one sort or another figure somehow in the claim making, whether as claimants, objects of claims, allies of the objects, or monitors of the contention” (Tilly and Wood, 2009: 3). Charles Tilly is essentially explaining that as Social Movements have progressed historically, their tactics and the way they approach their potential protests has advanced as well. Tilly goes on to note that of the many tactics that have been introduced by social movements throughout the years, certain contentious campaigns and aggressive altercations with authorities have been continuously used by these social movement organizations. Social movements are important organizations and figures in the global community because in many societies, they hold the levers of public thought and perception of the state. Social...

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