Role of Universalism and Neoliberalism in the New Social Movements

Decent Essays

In the past few decades, increasing attention to social issues has risen and the development of new methods to address this demand for change implemented, with varying degrees of success in the overall scheme. Methods of engaging in the new social movements of the twenty first century take different forms ranging from environmental and sexual reforms to religious revolutions and alternative ways of addressing globalization. As a result, a diverse number of interests groups have sprung up, each with their own agenda, making adhering to a single, universal cause difficult and oftentimes a point of contention. The conflicts of interest arising between grassroots movements and state involvement illustrate the larger issue of attempted …show more content…

Instead of focusing on as universalist perspective, Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach allows a shift in focus from the needs of the state to the needs of the individual, and brings the freedom of choice into the conversation (Nussbaum 450). In contrast, the neoliberal agenda views individuals as deviants and incarcerates them instead of understanding the nuances that characterize each woman’s position and experience (Bernstein 420). Furthermore, corporations and sexual abolitionists work through consumer and media friendly methods to “rescue” sex workers, which instead trap women in the very sexual culture they are fighting against (Bernstein 423). Evangelicals who spearheaded this movement in fact are closely tied with corporate capitalism and the state, as both seek to incriminate individuals instead of focusing on the failures of existing institutions.
Not only are systemic problems of a neoliberal, capitalist-structured society not often noted by those in power, but even when social movements attack them, there is a risk of staying within the boundaries by using the very same language to fight them--in short, using the system to fight the system. Kirkpatrick Sale, in “The Green Revolution: The American Environmental Movement 1962-1992”, details the advent of the environment movement from the 1960s on, brought on by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which

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