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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

10/01/2022

SNS announces 14 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, Italy is pleased to announce 14 PhD fellowships beginning on November 1, 2022.

16/07/2021

Prof. della Porta to lead VolkswagenStiftung-funded ECSEuro project

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Reflecting the European challenge of transnational cooperation and multiple crises, this project asks how local political initiatives across Europe enact citizenship and solidarity and contribute to the vision of a more democratic Europe from below.

09/07/2021

SNS announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions. Deadline for applications: 21 August 2021.

28/09/2020

Four post-doctoral research positions on the pandemic

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The Scuola Normale Superiore announces four post-doctoral positions to be activated as part of the research project “After the coronavirus pandemic: The effects of the health emergency on society and knowledge.” 

26/02/2020

CFP Athens conference "Capitalism, Democracy, Contention: A Decade of Crisis" 13-15 May 2020

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Aspiring to shed light on the Greek experience in the era of crisis in a comparative, inter-disciplinary perspective, the Laboratory on Contentious Politics (Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University, Athens), the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) and the Hellenic Political Science Association are organizing an international conference to be held at Panteion University, on 13, 14 and 15 May 2020.

12/12/2019

Prof. Donatella Della Porta to Be Awarded Honorary PhD

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On Friday 13, 2019, the University of the Peloponnese (PSIR) will award an honorary doctorate to Professor Donatella Della Porta, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore.

Publications

Journal Article - 2022

Forging, bending, and breaking: Enacting the “illiberal playbook” in Hungary and Poland

Andrea Pirro & Ben Stanley
We first argue that illiberal changes are ideologically founded and identify how both populism and nativism figure in the policymaking of illiberals in power. We then show how these practices emerge from a common “illiberal playbook”—a paradigm of policy change comprising forms of forging, bending, and breaking—and elaborate on the notion that illiberal governments are using legalism to kill liberalism.

Journal Article - 2022

Populists in power and conspiracy theories

Andrea Pirro & Paul Taggart
Looking at three cases of populists in government – Orbán in Hungary, Trump in the United States, and Chávez in Venezuela – we examine the definition of conspiring elites (who), the circumstances under which conspiracy theories are propagated (when), and the ultimate purpose of conspiratorial framing (why).

Journal Article - 2022

The Three Faces of Populism in Power: Policy, Policies and Politics

Manuela Caiani & Paolo Graziano
The article explores the consequences of the increasing presence of both left- and right-wing populist parties in government, critically reflecting on the recent scholarship on the topic, underlining promising venues for future research and outlining a conceptual framework which constitutes the background of this special issue entitled ‘Populism in Power and its Consequences’.

Monograph - 2022

Resisting the Backlash: Street Protest in Italy

Donatella della Porta, Niccolò Bertuzzi, Daniela Chironi, Chiara Milan, Martín Portos & Lorenzo Zamponi
Drawing interview material, together with extensive data from the authors’ original social movement database, this book examines the development of social movements in resistance to perceived political "regression" and a growing right-wing backlash.

Journal Article - 2022

The mobilization for spatial justice in divided societies. Urban commons, trust reconstruction and socialist memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Chiara Milan
The article contributes to the urban studies literature and the study of social movements in divided societies by disclosing the distinctive features and mobilizing potential that the notion of urban commons retains in a war-torn society with a socialist legacy.

Edited Volume - 2021

Contentious Migrant Solidarity. Shrinking Spaces and Civil Society Contestation

Donatella della Porta & Elias Steinhilper
Building upon social movement and migration studies, this book maps the two sides of ‘contentious solidarity’: a shrinking civic space and its contestation by civil society.

Journal Article - 2021

Learning from Democratic Practices: New Perspectives in Institutional Design

Andrea Felicetti
Drawing from literature on democratic practices in social movements and democratic innovations, the article illustrates three ways to advance institutional design in the wake of the systemic turn.

Journal Article - 2021

Far-right protest mobilisation in Europe: Grievances, opportunities and resources

Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Caterina Froio & Andrea Pirro
In this article, we bridge previous research on the far right and social movements to advance hypotheses on the drivers of far-right protest mobilisation based on grievances, opportunities and resource mobilisation models. We use an original dataset combining novel data on 4,845 far-right protest events in 11 East and West European countries (2008–2018), with existing measures accounting for the (political, economic and cultural) context of mobilisation.

Journal Article - 2021

Populism between voting and non-electoral participation

Andrea Pirro & Martín Portos
The article focuses on a neglected aspect of populist mobilisation, i.e. non-electoral participation (NEP), and elaborates on the extent to which populist party voters engage politically outside the polling station. While challenging common understandings of populism as inherently distrustful and apathetic, and protest as an exclusive practice of the left, the study critically places NEP at the heart of populism in general, and populist right politics in particular.

Monograph - 2021

Migrant Protest. Interactive Dynamics in Precarious Mobilizations

Elias Steinhilper
This book explores the interactions and spaces shaping the emergence, trajectory, and fragmentation of migrant protest in unfavorable contexts of marginalization.