UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

"It was like the gauntlet was thrown down" : the No! to APEC story Larcombe, Andrew


Ad hoc social movement coalitions are made up of diverse groups that come together to maximise the use of limited resources. Once formed, they face a dilemma. Coalition logic holds that given the limited time frame and instrumental objectives of the organisation, resources should be disproportionately invested in the visible sphere of action. However, this instrumental emphasis ignores the need to invest resources in the 'submerged' sphere of membership intercommunication. As a result tensions which have their root in divergent ideologies, traditions and histories of resistance can threaten the coalition's collective identity. This thesis is about one such organisation, the No! To APEC (NTA) coalition, one of three groups that made up the movement to oppose the APEC Economic Leader's Meeting in Vancouver held in November 1997. NTA, made up of small leftwing grassroots groups, built a campaign around resistance to "imperialist globalisation." It organised community education, an international conference and a march and rally. Although it succeeded in meeting its objectives, a fracture occurred between the largest and most consolidated member group and the other unconsolidated grouping made up of individuals and representatives of small organisations. The fracture caused a disconnection between the local and the international priorities set by the organisation at its outset. In this study I examine the process that led to this outcome. In particular I identify the importance of establishing a capacity for reflexively monitoring the actions and interactions of members. While consensus is not a pre-requisite for solidarity, disputes arising from different perspectives and membership tactics may jeopardise organisational unity. Providing a limited space for evaluating conflicting validity claims and organisational dynamics may help to preserve unity during the active phase of a coalition's mobilisation. The methods used to obtain data for this study were participant observation and interviewing. I spent six months as an activist-researcher with the coalition and I interviewed activists from the three main APEC opposition groups. Although the main focus of this study is on the political and organisational evolution of the NTA coalition, I broaden the discussion to argue that ad hoc coalitions play an important role in generating 'social capital' or 'social movement connectivity.' Social solidarity generated in the course of short-term political action increases the potential for further action mobilisation in social movement networks and communities. In the final part of the thesis I review literature on globalisation and social movements. Combined with what has been learned about coalitions in the previous chapters, this exercise provides a context for examining the APEC opposition movement and, by extension, the prospects for building transnational movements and a counter-hegemonic historical bloc against imperialist globalisation.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.

Usage Statistics