Reclaiming the Commons: A Discourse for New Politics. How Grassroots Activists are Shaping the Future

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



"This thesis draws together a number of examples of activism and protest in order to shine a light on some of the discourses and practices that have emerged in the late 20th and early 21st centuries that offer alternatives to the neoliberal discourse. I make the case for the political significance of the activists who have been a force for change that has been largely overlooked – until 2011, the year which saw a series of protests take place across a large part of the globe: ‘the year politics changed’. I present this argument through what I call the story of the commons, and assert that this narrative is evidence of a vision that has arisen piecemeal, and largely from grassroots levels. The examples of discourse and practice that this thesis explores illustrate both the emergence of the language of the commons from many different spheres of life and also its influence across a range of fields. The analysis includes a historical overview of the commons, while focusing on the evolution of the concept from the latter half of the 20th century to the present day, with the most recent material taken from events occurring in 2012. Through this vision, we recognise what is lost through the hegemony of ongoing capitalist appropriation, accumulation and exploitation of all aspects of life and reassert rights over - reclaim - that which has been lost. Through the struggle of all those involved in reclaiming the commons, a discourse for new politics emerges and shapes the future. This thesis demonstrates the emergence of a new discourse of the commons that makes possible a reconceptualisation of social, economic and political spaces."



commons, activism