The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement and Radical Democracy

  • John Chalcraft
Part of the Palgrave Critical Studies of Antisemitism and Racism book series (PCSAR)


This chapter argues that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, far from being anti-Semitic, can be usefully compared with recent radical democracy movements. Drawing on participant observation over a number of years, the chapter explores the core features of the BDS movement’s trans-local mobilizing project: highly diverse constituencies, rights-based and inclusionary identities and principles, networked and non-hierarchical organization, and a direct-action and participatory repertoire of collective action. The chapter emphasizes a distinctive feature of the movement’s strategy: it seeks to address and change political society without aiming to take up an established position of power within political society itself. The chapter argues that the movement’s radically democratic features, far from implying chaos, weakness, and failure, help account for this particular movement’s cohesion and potency.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Chalcraft
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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