Culture and Tactics

Gramsci, Race, and the Politics of Practice

By Robert F. Carley

Subjects: Cultural Studies, Sociology, Social Movements, Political Science, Social Change
Series: SUNY series, Praxis: Theory in Action
Hardcover : 9781438476438, 250 pages, October 2019
Paperback : 9781438476421, 250 pages, July 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Introduction: Tactics and Practice

1. The Epistemological Status of Tactics

2. Ideological Contention: Rethinking Race and Mobilization during the Biennio Rosso

3. Expanding Ideological Contention Theory: Social Movement Organizations and the Political Mobilization of Ideas

4. Agile Materialisms: The Gramscian Foundations of Racial Analysis in Cultural Studies

5. Conceptualizing Aporetic Governmentality: Rethinking Practice through Structural Marxism, Colorblind Racism, and Abstract Liberalism


Juxtaposes Antonio Gramsci’s work and critical race theory to offer a new understanding of tactics as a transformative practice.


While scholars of social and political movements tend to analyze tactics in terms of their effectiveness in achieving specific outcomes, Robert F. Carley argues by contrast that tactics are, above all, what social movements do. They are not mere means to an end so much as they are a public form of expression pointing out injustices and making just demands. Rooted in a highly original analysis of the tactically mediated relationship between race and mobilization in the work of Italian philosopher and revolutionary Antonio Gramsci, Culture and Tactics demonstrates how tactics impact the organizational structures of social movements and expand the affinities of political communities. Carley looks at how Gramsci used innovative tactics to bridge perceptions of racial differences between factory workers and subaltern groups, the latter having been denigrated to the point of subhumanity by a complex Italian national racial economy. Newly envisioning Gramsci as a theorist of race within a broader context of social struggle, Carley connects Gramsci's insights into the political mobilizations of racialized subaltern groups to contemporary critical race theory and cultural studies of racialization and racism. Speaking across disciplines and drawing on a number of empirical examples, Carley offers a battery of original concepts to assist scholars and activists in analyzing the tactical practices of protests in which race is a central factor.

Robert F. Carley is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Texas A&M University, College Station.


"…Carley's book should go on to become a staple of research on Gramsci, social movement theory, cultural studies, communication and media studies, and more." — Lateral

"This book is a valuable theoretical contribution to social movement theory." — CHOICE

"This book provides an excellent rendering of Gramsci's political perspective applied to race, and usefully extended to broader theoretical and practical applications." — Lee Artz, coauthor of Cultural Hegemony in the United States