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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Democracy, Communication and social movement studies – Keynote Speech, Prof. Donatella della Porta (SNS)

In the framework of the Summer School on Media in Political Participation and Mobilization, Prof. Donatella della Porta will give a keynote speech on democracy, communication and social movement studies.

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On the 26th of June 2017, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, Prof. Donatella della Porta (SNS) will give the inaugural keynote speech of the Summer School on Media in Political Participation and Mobilization. The keynote is open to the whole SNS community and COSMOS members.

Abstract

Literature on social movements, mass media and democracy have rarely interacted. Research on democracy has tended to focus on representative institutions, pragmatically using “minimalistic” operationalization of democracy as electoral accountability, and providing structural explanation of democratic developments. Research on the mass media also tended to isolate the mass media as a separate power, reflecting on the technological constraints and opportunities for communication. Social movement studies have mainly considered democratic characteristics as setting the structure of political opportunities social movements have to address and—more rarely—looked at the constraints the mass media impose upon powerless actors. Structural, instrumental and institutional biases, in various combination, tended to characterize the three fields of studies. More recently, in all three fields of knowledge, some opportunities for reciprocal learning and interactions developed, moved by some exogenous, societal changes as well as disciplinary evolution. I would suggest that looking at the intersection of democracy, media and social movements could be particularly useful within a relational and constructivist approach, that takes normative positions by the different actors into account. More broadly, this would mean to pay attention to the permeability of the borders between the three concepts, as well as between the three fields they tend to separate. In doing this, the chapter will pay particular attention to what social movement studies can learn from recent empirical and theoretical developments in communication studies and vice-versa.

News

10/11/2017

Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities

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We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities, sponsored by the Reinventing Democracy in Europe: Youth Doing Politics in Times of Increasing Inequalities project (EURYKA) and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS).

26/10/2017

Now Online! The plenary session (Un)making Europe of the 13th ESA Conference

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During the plenary session, Donatella della Porta and Yanis Varoufakis spoke about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies.

06/10/2017

Open Democracy Post - "The streets will always be ours" - Catalonia, a referendum from below

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Although some still conceive of the referendum as launched by a pro-independence vanguard, the elite story falls short of explaining the resilient participation of a large part of Catalan civil society. This post at Open Democracy addresses this issue from a different angle.

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

The Refugee Crisis as a Crisis of Legitimacy

Pietro Castelli Gattinara
The paper suggests that the refugee crisis is best understood in relation to other ongoing crises in the EU, and that the way it is handled will have significant consequences for future action, shaping the way European societies cope with forthcoming crises and transforming the relationship between states and citizens. Accordingly, it argues that the permanent state of emergency characterising governmental responses so far does not bode well for the future of liberal democracy in Europe.

Journal Article - 2017

The Myth of Apolitical Volunteering for Refugees: German Welcome Culture and a New Dispositif of Helping

Larissa Fleischmann and Elias Steinhilper
During the so-called “refugee crisis”, the notion of an unparalleled German hospitality toward asylum seekers circulated within the (inter)national public sphere, often encapsulated by the blurry buzzword “Welcome Culture”. In this article, we scrutinize these developments and suggest that the image of the so-called “crisis” has activated an unprecedented number of German citizens to engage in practices of “apolitical” helping. However, we aim to unmask forms of “apolitical” volunteering for refugees as a powerful myth: the new dispositif of helping comes with ambivalent and contradictory effects that range from forms of antipolitics to transformative political possibilities within the European border regime.