Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

Carolina Bank Muñoz

Committee Members

John Krinsky

Charles Post

Robyn Spencer

Subject Categories

Politics and Social Change | Theory, Knowledge and Science | United States History

Keywords

Social theory, political sociology, social movement studies, New Left, War on Poverty, Marxism

Abstract

This dissertation suggests a new way of thinking about relations between social movements and capitalist states through a comparative historical sociological study of how three New Left social movement organizations – Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panther Party, and the National VISTA Alliance – related to the United States government’s War on Poverty in the 1960s and 1970s. It contributes to historical knowledge of the period by investigating the archives of these social movement organizations, and it systematizes the viewpoint of movement participants in dialogue with social and political theory. The dissertation finds that the trajectories of these organizations frustrate simplistic definitions of social movements as either purely autonomous from or hopelessly coopted by the state. Instead, this dissertation conceptualizes movement-state relations as a close-quarters antagonism, and it develops a movement-centered theory of the capitalist state. The capitalist state in this view is simultaneously a product of prior social struggles, a terrain upon and over which contemporary struggles unfold, and an obstacle to the collective self-determination of working-class and poor people. As components of this theory, the dissertation advances several concepts – political subsumption, collective subjectivation, the anti-poverty ideological state apparatus, and the non-profit ideological state apparatus – which may inform ongoing debates within the critical social sciences, social and political theory, and Marxism.

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