Rethinking Prefigurative Politics

Special Thematic Section
Journal of Social and Political Psychology
Guest Editors: Jan Haaken, Flora Cornish, Catherine Campbell, Sharon Jackson, Liora Moskovitz
The early 21st century proliferation of small-scale social movements in the Global North and South provides the context for this special section. ‘Prefigurative politics’ emerged in the 1970s as a term that expressed the ethos of creating alternative communities – fostering small-scale experiments in modes of living and working that realize in the present the values of an anticipated better society. The term has gained new interest in recent years to understand an upsurge of movements, including, for example, the Occupy movement, intentional communities, workers’ cooperatives, direct democracy initiatives, Transition Towns, timebanks, eco-villages, citizens’ municipal budgeting, community gardening, reclamation of urban spaces for social use, health cooperatives, participatory economics, permaculture, restorative justice, food sovereignty, and the open-source movement.
Considerable thinking remains to be done on the relations between such prefigurative practices and broad-based social change. The landscape has changed since the 1970s, with global inequalities further entrenched, global politics less organised by a Left-Right divide, and concepts of localism co-opted into political and corporate agendas. Psychological processes are crucial to understanding the emergence, development and dissipation of such small, face-to-face communities. The dynamics of communication, action, coalition-building, and achievement deserve further attention. Issues of group cohesion/conflict, as well as individual/collective change and thinking/feeling capacities are some of the psychological themes that arise.
We welcome submissions on these and other topics that can contribute to ‘rethinking prefigurative politics’. Manuscripts can be original research reports, case studies, theoretical articles, review articles, reflective pieces, or commentaries.
A two-round process of review will take place. Please submit long abstracts (1000 words) by 31 October 2014 to Jan Haaken ( and Flora Cornish ( Following review, selected authors will be invited to submit full papers by 9 March 2015 for peer review. The special section will be published in 2016. Queries may be directed to Jan Haaken or Flora Cornish.
See also this flyer.