AMA: “The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements”

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.