The market as an opportunity space for Islamic movements: the counterhegemonic strategy of the Muslim Brothers
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This paper conceptualise Islamic movements as producers of knowledge and meanings. This approach relies on the theoretical framework provided by the social movement theory and on its empirical applications in the understanding of the processes, dynamics and strategies of Islamic activism. Islamic groups are here seen as “signifying agents engaged in the social construction of meaning” (Wiktorowicz 2004, p. 15). Indeed, this approach explores the social action of Islamic groups in terms of transformation of potential individual contention into actual collective action through interpretative frames, linked to specific cultural and historical contexts. This production of knowledge is seen as a counter-hegemonic struggle aimed at controlling civil and political society, intended as the fora of social production of meaning (Wiktorowicz 2004, 16). Thus, the concept of “Islamic awakening” will be understood as an example of production of a particular form of counter-hegemonic narrative, labelled as “insurgent consciousness” (McAdam 1982/1999, Smith 1996). Besides, the social movement theory approach, thanks to its emphasis on the opportunities provided by networks and alliances, can also explain the diffusion of this consciousness. Main loci where these processes of production of collective knowledge can be empirically observed are “opportunity spaces” such as the media, and particularly the market (Yavuz 2003). The social movement approach contributes to challenge dichotomies such as religious/secular and popular/elite knowledge, mainly interpreting the struggles over meaning in terms of “centre” and “periphery” (Yavuz 2003). Therefore, aim of this paper is to contribute to a process of theory building in the examination of Islamic activism, an area which, despite the extensive research undertaken, still remains undertheorised.
McAdam, Doug. (1999) Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970. 2nd ed. Chicago ; London: University of Chicago Press. Smith, Christian. (1996) Disruptive Religion : The Force of Faith in Social-Movement Activism. New York ; London: Routledge. Yavuz, Hakan. (2003) Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wiktorowicz, Quintan. (2004) Islamic Activism : A Social Movement Theory Approach. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press.