Jonathan Matthew Smucker
I spent most of the past two decades organizing within grassroots social justice movements and organizations in the United States. A central goal of my studies, as well as my work in social movements, is to contribute to the re-politicization of presently de-politicized everyday spaces; to weave politics and collective action back into the fabric of society (in contrast to viewing "activism" as a neatly bounded community unto itself).Towards this end I am interested in studying processes of collective identity formation, maintenance, and politicization. By collective identity, I mean as it relates both to locally experienced groups and to larger abstract “imagined communities” based on nation, class, race, ethnicity, and other categories. Specifically, I want to better understand how different social aggregations come to identify with political agendas and emergent social movements, and what factors encourage or constrain such politicization. I am interested in the processes and strategies of political contenders, from elites to challengers, in engaging in hegemonic contests over the meanings and ownership of symbols, language, and narratives in order to legitimate themselves, delegitimize opponents, and win the loyalty, alignment or acquiescence of social blocs. And I'm interested in exploring asymmetries between leftwing and rightwing social movements (e.g. organizational practices, internal cultures, attitudes about power, and access to resources).