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The Libidinal Constitution of a High-Risk Social Movement: Affectual Ties and Solidarity in the Huk Rebellion, 1946 to 1954

Jeff Goodwin
American Sociological Review
Vol. 62, No. 1 (Feb., 1997), pp. 53-69
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657452
Page Count: 17
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The Libidinal Constitution of a High-Risk Social Movement: Affectual Ties and Solidarity in the Huk Rebellion, 1946 to 1954
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Abstract

The dominant theoretical paradigms in social-movement research usually neglect the influence of affectual and sexual relationships on collective action. Drawing on the psychoanalytic social theory of Philip Slater (1963, 1977), I employ a "libidinal-economy" perspective to explore the effects of such relationships on the Communist-led Huk rebellion in the Philippines (1946-1954). I argue that affectual relationships eroded the solidarity of this exclusive and high-risk social movement. The libidinal constitution (i.e., the structure and "economy" of the affectual ties) of the Huk movement's predominantly male activists-including cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines-undermined their collective identity and discipline. The "libidinal opportunity structure" created by these activists' affectual and sexual ties allowed emotional or "libidinal withdrawal" from, and weakened identification with, this insurgency, thereby contributing to its eventual disintegration. I call for a "return of the repressed" within social-movement theory, that is, for the incorporation of sexual and affectual ties into our theoretical perspectives and empirical research.

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