Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Document Type



Dominant theories of tactical innovation in contentious politics suggest that actors innovate in times of crisis or at the margins of familiar forms of action in order to achieve strategic advantage. I argue that these theories do not satisfactorily account for the tactical creativity of a form of contention called culture jamming. Instead, I employ a biographical theory of tactical innovation to explain their distinct repertoire of contention. This theory claims that tactics are partially explained as emanations of or congruent with the life experiences, identities, dispositions, and values of actors. Bourdieu’s field theory allows me to identify a social context generative of an aesthetic disposition, the field of art. It is my contention that a politicized aesthetic disposition is responsible for the observed tactical creativity and innovation of culture jamming. Such a disposition allows for the perception of everyday life objects, discourses, and practices as aesthetic. These common, mundane, even ugly materials are then susceptible to tactical and strategic appropriation. Through an analysis of two culture jamming groups, Critical Art Ensemble and Ubermorgen, I empirically illustrate my application of the biographical theory of innovation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Xi Chen