AMA: "The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements"

by Evan_Gaensbauer 1 min read18th Mar 202023 comments


For those who don't know, AMA stands for 'Ask Me Anything'. So an AMA post is one where users/commenters are welcome to ask any questions they have about the topic. There have recently been more AMAs on the EA Forum. This one is going to be a bit different than other AMAs. I've got a copy of The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements, available for $150 USD from Oxford University Press (OUP). From the OUP website:

Oxford Handbooks offer authoritative and up-to-date surveys of original research in a particular subject area. Specially commissioned essays from leading figures in the discipline give critical examinations of the progress and direction of debates, as well as a foundation for future research.

The handbook I've got is that for social movements. Effective altruism (EA) is a social movement. EA is different than most other social movements. Yet The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements is 800 pages and 53 chapters. It's as comprehensive a source on the topic of social movements as one will find, so it should have some answer to any question anyone has about social movements as they relate to effective altruism. Even the e-book on Google Books was $39.95. So if I just answer whatever questions everyone has, nobody else needs to buy a copy of the handbook. While perhaps one could download a copy of the handbook, that can be inconvenient to lots of people for different reasons. So it's easier to do an AMA here. The EA community getting value out of the copy of the handbook I bought would also help me justify to myself the $150 I spent on the hard copy of this handbook.

There are many academics, students or researchers in effective altruism who have access to what information they would want to know about social movements. Yet this information is often accessible only through a private license a university acquires from an academic publisher. Through this AMA, we can establish a permanent, transparent and public record of scholarly-backed answers to questions about social movements most relevant to effective altruism. I also personally know much about the history, philosophy and theories of effective altruism, and those of related movements, such as environmentalism, transhumanism, or animal welfare/rights/liberation. So I can take sociology jargon new to most of the EA community and apply it to a context EA understands and cares about.

This is going to be a 'rolling' AMA, in that I'm going to answer questions as I have the time over the course of several days, as opposed to all at once. During that time, everyone can continue asking questions in that period of time. I'm assuming after a period of time the AMA will wind down, at which point I will collate the most upvoted questions, answers and other comments, and publish them as another article on the EA Forum.