Collective action and civil disobedience: the anti-GMO campaign of the Faucheurs volontaires

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Civil disobedience has hitherto enjoyed only a relatively marginal place in the repertoires of French social movements, but has recently emerged as a key rallying frame for social mobilization, especially among environmental and counter-globalization movements. This paper examines the theory and practice of civil disobedience in the French context through an analysis of one such movement, the anti-GM Faucheurs Volontaires. Discussing the highly controversial campaign's positioning as 'civic disobedience', the article examines contested discourses of violence surrounding crop destruction, and the state responses to action, before asking what the campaign's claims to Republican civism mean for traditional notions of the relationship between state and challenging groups in France. It argues that framing action as civil disobedience is central to attempts to construct political and popular legitimacy, in terms of the campaign's national, international, and sectoral goals.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-314
Number of pages22
JournalFrench Politics
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • civil disobedience, genetic modification, peasant activism, violence, global justice

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