Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

John W. Murphy

Second Committee Member

Jomills Braddock II

Third Committee Member

Marvin P. Dawkins

Fourth Committee Member

Jan Nijman


Social movements in various parts of the world have been attempting to challenge the forces of neoliberal globalization and the social problems caused by this economic trend. Many such movements have been advancing the idea of global civil society in order to counter 'globalization from above'. Despite the efforts of these movements to democratize social relations, the domination of these powerful forces persist and result in further oppression of marginalized people. This study attempts to discover the reasons why these social movements and civil society, despite popular support, fail to challenge effectively the power of such social forces. In particular, this study analyzes, through in-depth interviews with activists, and archival and observational data, the world-view of civil society activists in a movement against Coca-Cola initiated by the marginalized people in Kerala, India. While this struggle, popularly called the 'Plachimada movement', managed to effect the temporary closure of a Coca-Cola plant, whose operation reportedly affected the ground water in the region, the local people felt that it failed to address their conditions of marginality. The analysis of the movement's processes finds that hegemony, or indirect forms of domination, often stands in the way of such efforts at democratic social change. The study concludes with suggestions for rethinking civil society as an arena of reflexive collective action that is counter-hegemonic.


Social Movements; Development; Globalization; Civil Society; India; Hegemony