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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Class without Consciousness: The Politics of Fragmented Class Identities

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14-15 November 2019, Department of Social and Political Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

Organizers: Donatella della Porta, Linus Westheuser (SNS)

Keynote lectures: Donatella della Porta (SNS), Klaus Dörre (University of Jena), and Don Kalb (University of Bergen, University of Utrecht)

 

In the crisis of neoliberal globalization, the socio-structural bases of political conflict are returning to the top of the agenda. Surges of the populist right relied on winning over segments of the working class to an anti-immigration coalition. At the same time, a socialist ‘class left’, often spearheaded by young, precarious segments of the new middle class, has been showing signs of a revival. Amidst a secular decline of union power, strategies of rank-and-file organizing at times proved successful in uniting workers across ethnic and other divides. And in countries hit by the 2008 crisis, contention over austerity politics and precarity gave rise to cross-class alliances in the electoral and protest arenas. Pronouncements of a ‘death of class’ made in the 1990s today seem questionable at best.

Yet the prominence of class vocabulary had not only waned in social science research, but also in public discourses and the self-understandings of many wage dependent people. While rising inequalities, the power of capital over labor, and austerity politics create new distributional conflicts, divisions between different segments of working people – by education and skills, occupation, sector, ethnicity and citizenship, geographic location, precarity, gender, and age – proliferate positions within the class structure, fragment it and render it opaque in everyday life. This creates a contradictory moment in which the increasing prevalence of class inequality coincides with exceptionally weak class identities: “Class without consciousness” (J.Stacul).

The conference wants to provide an academic forum for discussing the dynamic, contradictory, and often hidden politics of class identity in an age of rising inequality and opaque class structures. In particular, we are interested in the following themes:

  • How does the fragmentation and demobilization of class identities help understand right-wing populism and the relative weakness of left-wing social blocs across the West? How are class identities mobilized and reshaped in alliances on the radical right?
  • How does the partial eclipse of the class cleavage by a new cleavage over migration and national closure play out at the level of identities?
  • Where do we see the persistence of a sense of class relations in other forms of identity discourse, such as those of national belonging, moral boundaries, populism, or ‘citizenism’? What new forms of class consciousness are emerging?
  • Do experiences of precarity obstruct or rekindle the formation of class consciousness?
  • How are class identities de- and repoliticized at intersections with other forms of social organization, distinction and domination, such as ethnicity, gender, and sexuality?
  • Which identities can progressive class alliances between workers and parts of the middle class appeal to? Which misunderstandings should be avoided?

Allegati

FINAL Program Class without consciousness

News

22/07/2019

Protest for a future: international report on #FridaysForFuture and the climate strike

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Composition, mobilization and motives of the participants in Fridays For Future climate protests on 15 March 2019, in 13 European cities. A multi-country collaboration report, with contributions from COSMOS researchers Lorenzo Zamponi, Donatella della Porta, Martín Portos, Niccolò Bertuzzi and Daniela Chironi.

21/06/2019

Call for papers: "The Nation and the Radical Left - Practices and Discourses of National Identity in Left-Wing Politics"

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The call for papers is now open for a conference on national identities and left-wing politics.

18/06/2019

Call for papers: “Class without consciousness” – The Politics of Fragmented Class Identities

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The call for papers is now open for a two-day conference on class and identities at the Scuola Normale Superiore on 14-15 November 2019

05/03/2019

A dialogue on labour, trade unions and conflicts

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On the 22nd of March, from 4pm to 7pm, Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore) and Maurizio Landini (Secretary General of CGIL) will discuss about labour, trade unions and conflicts.

05/02/2019

Call for Papers - Social Movements and Parties in a Fractured Media Landscape

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The call for papers is now open for a two-day symposium held under the auspices of the journal ‘Information, Communication & Society’ (iCS) at the Centre on Social Movement Studies, 1-2 July 2019.

04/02/2019

17 Fully funded 4-years PhD positions in Political Science and Sociology and in Transnational Governance, Scuola Normale Superiore

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The grant is for 4 years. It is open to students of all nationalities. Coverage of research expenses (conferences, summer schools, research periods abroads) is provided.

Publications

Journal Article - 2019

Alliance building and eventful protests: comparing Spanish and Portuguese trajectories under the Great Recession

Martín Portos & Tiago Carvalho
Social movement research has shed light on the relationship between processes of alliance building and multiple factors related to political opportunities, framing, identities, networks and resource mobilization. However, less is known about the impact of eventful protests on coalition building dynamics.

Journal Article - 2019

From the Rainy Place to the Burnt Palace: How Social Movements Form their Political Strategies. The Case of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba

Leonidas Oikonomakis
Exploring the case of the cocaleros of the Chapare, this article argues that more emphasis should be placed on mechanisms that are internal to the movements, such as: (a) the resonance of other political experiences at home and abroad, (b) internal struggles for ideological hegemony, and (c) the political formation of their grassroots.

Monograph - 2019

Resistere alla crisi. I percorsi dell'azione sociale diretta

Lorenzo Bosi, Lorenzo Zamponi
Uno studio in profondità su solidarietà, mutualismo e organizzazione dal basso nell'Italia della crisi.

Journal Article - 2019

Digital movement parties: a comparative analysis of the technopolitical cultures and the participation platforms of the Movimento 5 Stelle and the Piratenpartei

Marco Deseriis
This article contributes to the debate on technopopulism by accounting for the critical role played by two different technopolitical cultures in shaping the conception and design of the online participation platforms of the Italian Five Star Movement and the German Pirate Party.

Monograph - 2018

The Contentious Politics of Higher Education. Struggles and Power Relations within English and Italian Universities

Lorenzo Cini
Drawing on neo-institutionalist and social movement approaches, this book analyses the impact that recent student mobilizations have brought about within Italian and English universities in terms of student services, curriculum organization, and governance structures.

Chapter in edited book - 2018

I post, you rally, she tweets…and we all occupy. The challenges of hybrid spatiality in the Occupy Wall Street mobilizations

Alice Mattoni
Exploring the interconnections between camps and platforms, this chapter shows how a fluid conception of spatiality emerged in the Occupy Wall Street mobilizations, which had vital implications for the participation patterns of activists.

Journal Article - 2018

New Technologies as a Neglected Social Movement Outcome: The Case of Activism against Animal Experimentation

Manès Weisskircher
Based on novel empirical research, this paper analyzes a crucial and understudied case of a movement pushing for new technologies: the animal rights movement and its efforts to push for alternatives to animal experimentation.

Journal Article - 2018

Mobilizing in transnational contentious spaces: linking relations, emotions and space in migrant activism

Elias Steinhilper
The article illustrates how the transnational spaces most migrants inhabit can be politicized and transformed into particular social formations, for which the term ‘transnational contentious spaces’ is suggested.