Against the Current: Social Pathways and the Pursuit of Enduring Change [Book Review]

Feminist Legal Studies 9 (2):119-148 (2001)
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Radical innovations and practices frequentlyfind themselves in an inhospitable environment,struggling against the gravitational force ofdominant norms, practices and relations. Thispaper explores the problems radical changeconfronts in its attempts to become sustainable.Against the postmodern valorisation of thetransient and ephemeral, the paper argues forthe importance of routinisation and repetitionin the process of creating and sustainingchange. A metaphor of social pathways isdeveloped to explore how new routines arecreated through de jure (governance) andde facto (usage) means. The paper arguesthat, in contrast to governance, the emergentdurability generated by usage enables routinesto outlive their conditions of existence.At the same time, routines at odds with theirsocial and institutional environment tend overtime to disappear. The second half of the paperdraws on four British attempts to introduce newpathways: lesbian and gay local governmentinitiatives, Conservative education reforms,Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and LocalExchange Trading Systems (LETS). Through theseexamples, the paper reflects on attempts tocreate more conducive environments, and some ofthe difficulties this generates



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