Everyday life, a nebulous and contested concept, is increasingly featuring in accounts of socioeconomic transformation. This article reviews its connections with consumption, sometimes referred to as ‘everyday consumption’; and to political action, ‘everyday politics’. It brings together different theoretical and empirical agendas to explore intersections and shifts in ideas around transformation. The first section describes the ways in which everyday life has become associated with consumption, especially through studying practices and their relationship with ecological change. It argues that power, politics and resources are largely absent from these discussions. The second section therefore reviews literature on power, noting that influential theory, including feminist perspectives, practice theory and the work of Michel Foucault, all places emphasis on quotidian situations, interactions and instances, offering ways forward to addressing the absence of power in research on everyday consumption. The third section explores and compares the diverse literature on ‘everyday politics’, lifestyle movements, everyday resistance, prefiguration, life politics and subpolitics. The article groups these and other claims about how the everyday matters for social change into a set of common debates around resources, issues and themes, objects of study, and consequences. This helps identify some notable empirical findings, contrasting analytical claims, and suggests some priorities for future research.
Prefigurative politics plays an important role in a diverse constellation of themes relevant to contemporary political activity. This chapter analyzes and problematizes this diversity with respect to the sub-discipline of social movement studies. Debates about prefiguration began in discussions of social movements and political strategy in the late 1960s and 1970s. Since then, its meaning has evolved and its use has diversified. Over time, it has been associated with a range of collectives, political themes and orientations to activism, perhaps most prominently feminism, anarchism, environmentalism, direct action, alter-globalization, anti-austerity and new democracy mobilizations. The aim of the first part of the chapter is therefore to provide clarity about the explicit use of the concept since its emergence. In the second part of the chapter, focus shifts to the implicit use of the term. It is argued that prefiguration is at risk of being overused to describe horizontal, non-hierarchically organized Left-wing movements and of being underused in describing Right-wing movements, suggesting an implicit association with particular political positions. It remains to be seen whether prefigurative politics are indeed much rarer in Right-wing movements or simply, this area has been overlooked. The chapter concludes with a discussion of implications for future research.