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Dr Graeme Chesters

PositionDeputy Director of the International Centre for Participation Studies, Senior Research Fellow in Peace Studies
LocationPemberton P1.02
DepartmentPeace Studies and International Development
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 234802

Teaching and Supervisory Responsibilities

Students Supervised:

  • 1 x ESRC 3+1 - 'La Via Campesina, The UN FAO and Food Sovereignty'.
  • 1 x ESRC 3+1 - 'The social identity of Britishness'.
  • 1 x Basque Govt Scholarship - 'The role of Civil Society in the Basque Peace Process'
  • 1 x Self-funded - 'Complexity and Community Empowerment'
  • 1 x Self-funded - 'Complexity and Peace Education'
  • 1 x Self-funded - Social Movements and Computer Mediated Communications

Administrative Responsibilities

I am postgraduate admissions tutor for the Division of Peace Studies.


Earlier in life I worked in a variety of contexts from agriculture to transport to prisons and these experiences taught me to appreciate and value the trade union movement, its history and means of organising. I was awarded a scholarship with the support of my union – the Public and Commercial Services Union (then - CPSA) to study at Ruskin College in Oxford where I won the Hind Prize for outstanding scholarship in Labour Studies. Afterwards I entered Higher Education and have spent my time since studying, writing, teaching about, and participating in, various forms of collective action concerned with social justice and social change.

Study History

  • Diploma in Labour Studies – Ruskin College, Oxford.
  • BA (Hons) 1st Class, Lancaster University.
  • PhD Lancaster University.

Professional History

I have held previous posts as Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Local Policy Studies at Edge Hill University and as Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University.

Professional Activities

  • Editorial Board - Social Movement Studies, Anarchist Studies.
  • Editorial advisor for Emerald publishing’s book series - Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management.
  • Member of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee 24 - Environment and Society and Research Committee 48 - Social Movements and Social Class.

Research Areas

My areas of interest include social movements, complexity theory, biopolitics, governmentality and participatory democracy. I have published widely in these areas, including a major re-theorisation of global social movements, a ‘seminal’ work on social movements and economic regeneration, and articles and chapters on globalization and security, research methodologies, ethics and social theory. My most recent book is Social Movements – The Key Concepts, which was published by Routledge in 2011.

At the core of my research is the relationship between agency, participation and social change in the context of global complexity. This includes a focus upon the production and exercise of political power, the establishment of social norms and the analysis and subsequent contestation of these processes by social movements. It also includes analysis of the role ‘radical theory’ plays in shaping and developing the self-understandings and knowledge-practices of social movements (autonomist, complexity and critical theories), as well as the contextualisation of these processes within the multiple ‘crises’ associated with the democratic deficit, market failure, climate change and resource depletion.

A number of these interests came together in my work on social movement and civil society networks using complexity theory, which drew upon participatory research in social movement networks across the UK and Europe. This work was published as Complexity and Social Movements: Multitudes at the Edge of Chaos (with Ian Welsh, Routledge, 2006).

I remain committed to the ‘co-production of knowledge’ and have worked with various movements, journalists and others to disseminate social movement knowledge on an array of issues.

Current Projects

  • Co-investigator on the community university project ‘Comm-UNI-ty’ which is funded by the ESRC and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  • Social Movements of the Commons – This project is examining the rise to importance of the concept of the commons amongst social movements, from the free culture movement to Occupy and the May 15th movements as well as their antecedents in historic social movements of the past.
  • I am also working on two further books - an accessible introduction to global social movement theory and an exploration of how new materialist theories can help us understand the operation of power in complex societies.


Key Publications – Books:

  • Neo-materialism: From Biopower to Social Movements (with Ian Welsh), Routledge: London. (forthcoming 2014)
  • Social Movements: The Key Concepts (with Ian Welsh), Routledge, London. (2011).
  • Complexity and Social Movements: Multitudes at the Edge of Chaos, (with Ian Welsh) International Library of Sociology Series, Routledge, London. (2006).
  • We Are Everywhere, Verso, London, (2003). (With Ainger, K., Credland, T., Jordan, J., Stern, A. & Whitney, D.). Translations: French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Spanish and Turkish.

Key Publications - Articles:

  • ‘Exodus: From Global Civil Society to Radical Disobedience’, Spanda Journal, IV, 1: 11-20 (2013)
  • ‘Social Movements and the Ethics of Knowledge Production’, Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, 11, 2: 1-16. (2012)
  • ‘Social Movements and Regeneration: Within, Without, Against?’ Local Government Studies, 35, 3:371-384. (2009)
  • ‘Complexity and Social Movement: Process and Emergence in Planetary Action Systems’ (with Ian Welsh) Theory, Culture and Society, 22, 5: 187-211. (2005)
  • ‘Global Complexity and Global Civil Society’, Voluntas: The International Journal of Voluntary and Non-Profit Organizations, 15, 4: 323-342. (2004)
  • ‘Rebels with a Cause, Folk Devils without a Panic: Press Jingoism, Policing Tactics and Anti-Capitalist Protest in London and Prague’ (with Fiona Donson and Ian Welsh), Internet Journal of Criminology,
  • ‘Rebel Colours: “Framing” in Global Social Movement’, (with Ian Welsh) Sociological Review, 52, 3:314-335. (2004)

Book Chapters: 

  • ‘Resist, Refuse, Occupy’ in Diamond, J. & Liddle, J. (eds.) (2013) Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management Vol 2: Civil Society, Social Movements and Crises for Public Management: Looking for Consensus? London: Emerald.
  • ‘Social Movement’ in Segal, R. & Stuckard, K. (eds.) (2013) Vocabulary for the Study of Religion, Leiden/Boston: Brill.
  • ‘What is the WSF’s “Secret of Fire”?’ in Sen, J. (ed.) (2012) Facing the Future: The World Social Forum, the Global Justice Movement, and Beyond, Black Rose Books: Montreal.
  • ‘Counterglobalization Movements’ in Fagan, H. & Munck, R. (eds.) (2009) Globalization and Security, Praeger Security International: Santa Barbara.
  • ‘Social Movements and Regeneration’ in Diamond, J. and Liddle, J. (eds.) (2009) Regeneration Management: International Perspectives, Routledge: London.
  • 'Complex and Minor: Deleuze and the Alter-Globalization Movement(s)’ in Malins, P. & Hickey-Moody, A. Deleuzian Encounters: Studies in Contemporary Social Issues, Palgrave-Macmillan: London. (2007).
  • ‘Global Uprisings and the Politics of the Artisan’ (with Michal Osterweil) in Graeber, D. & Shukaitis, S. (2007) Constituent Imaginations, AK Press, Edinburgh.
  • ‘Complessita' e movimenti: Processi ed emersione nei sistemi d'azione planetaria’ (with Ian Welsh) in Montagna, N. (2006) La globalizzazione dei Movimenti (The globalization of movements), Franco Angeli: Milano.

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