Islamism and social movement theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a new, but still limited, realisation that the perspectives developed by the 'social movement theory' can be useful to illuminate aspects of Islamist movements. This is a welcome development. Yet it is also pertinent to point to some limitations of the prevailing social movement theories (those grounded in the technologically advanced and politically open societies) to account for the complexities of sociopolitical activism in contemporary Muslim societies, which are often characterised by political control and limited means for communicative action. The article argues for a more fluid and fragmented understanding of social movements, which may better explain the differentiated and changing disposition of such movements as Islamism. In this context, I propose the concept of 'imagined solidarities', which might help illustrate modes of solidarity building in such closed political settings as the contemporary Muslim Middle East.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-908
Number of pages18
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development


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