9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN25 Social Movements

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 New Technologies and Activism Building I, 1E3

The Access to Knowledge movement: reshaping politics in the information society

Individuals and organizations choose A2K as a common umbrella under which they critique the inequalities and injustices arising from intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. The A2K movement can be seen as a movement of movements overlapping as in Ven diagrams, each group bringing its own causes, tactics and networks, but all forming one collective identity. Without imposing a hierarchy of claims, A2K promotes the emergence of an entity that transcends the elements that constitute it. Individuals invest in the movement their handicaps or their privileges, which become resources for collective action and/or basis for claims bearing universal range. A2K can thus be understood as "a multitude" inheriting its own intentionality by articulating the singular to the common - as such, it illustrates an evolution of the culture of mobilizations.

A2K actors rallied in the name of their opposition to increasing IPR protection. But opposition to a concept that affects a wide range of aspects of society and impose structural interconnections between them - such as IP or the WTO - favors the coalescence of movements originally focusing on specific issues, but separately, forcing them to wrap themselves up in a more systemic way. Thus A2K constituencies seek to be perceived not as simply contradictors, but as promoters of a positive agenda seeking to reframe issues independently of a relation to IP and outside of the logic of the IP system.

A2K targets issues specific to the new digital society, but fundamentally addresses classical problems (inequalities in the distribution of resources, social justice). Raising access issues, it reveals the dissonances of the public claims of dominant powers regarding equality and democracy, making the perception of injustices and moral questioning possible. While its pragmatic concerns (innovation and creation) anchor it within the capitalist system, their articulation to social justice claims (access) re-injects a moral dimension into politics. Hence, the framework of social movement theory applied to A2K/pro-IP conflicts offer tools to understand recent evolutions affecting the relations between the state and its constituencies in the neo-liberal "rationality", and the ways politicization occurs outside of representative politics.