The insufficient imagery of top-down, bottom-up in global movements analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Scholars have shown various ways in which new types of transnational interdependence influence conflicts and resistance. Conventional conceptualization often depicts movements as emerging from the ‘bottom-up’ efforts of distinctive, individual collectives to challenge the ‘top-down’ hegemony of bureaucratic states, multinational corporations, and some international civil society organizations. But globalization scholars, and particularly those developing a framework of world society studies, place interactions among different levels of action and orientation at the center of conflict analysis and show how mobilization and change occurs across complex, interdependent relationships. In this article, I interrogate the different and often contradictory ways that dimensions of mobilization and social change are commonly denoted in this usage. I then explore alternative global theoretical frameworks that give greater explanatory power to the dynamic global–local interface. To move beyond the constraints of binary thinking in global movements analysis, I suggest that future scholarship clearly specify significant attributes of mobilization, identify how attributes vary and co-mingle, and locate social processes among a host of global–local relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-168
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Movement Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Top-down
  • bottom-up
  • diffusion
  • global movements
  • global–local
  • institutionalism
  • transnational organizations
  • world society theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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