The subject of social movements has long been a major sociological (and indeed historical) specialism. Intensive debate has engaged with issues such as the origins of social movements, their social composition, their relationship to utopian movements and literature, to intentional communities such as communes, to development patterns in the global South, to resistance and revolutionary activities and to internal factors in the success or failure of social movements, such as their ability to mobilize resources, to communicate their message to a mass audience and to fend off challenges to their legitimacy. A bibliography of social movements would now stretch to many thousands of volumes and articles. So, one might assume by now that the subject was somewhat exhausted, and that all the major theoretical questions had been answered. But a quick glance at the social landscapes around us shows that this is far from the case, and for a number of significant reasons. New movements constantly arise in response to new situations, environmental, social and political; old movements may fade away or revitalize themselves; new patterns of protest emerge as technology enables new forms of communication and mobilization. Even fifty years ago it would have been hard to image a global environmental movement emerging in the way in which it has in response to the massive ecological damage, pollution, species loss and habitat destruction that has been the result of the practices of both extractive forms of capitalism and socialism. The anti-nuclear movement could hardly exist were it not for both the development (and deployment) of nuclear weapons and of the increasing use of nuclear energy for “peaceful” purposes (despite its enormous costs and risks). Trades unions, once a major feature of the social and political life of most industrial societies have almost universally faded in significance, political clout and membership. Religion, which was in the not such distant past assumed by secularization theorists to be on the way out, has proved to have immense staying power and re-emerges constantly as a social force whether in the form of Islamic, Hindu, Christian or Jewish fundamentalism: in the 2numerous and flourishing “guru” cults of contemporary India, as revivalist movements as with Christian Pentecostalism or “Mega-churches”, or simply in the popularity of many forms of “spirituality”, even or especially among those who do not regard themselves as “religious” in any conventional sense.