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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Eduardo Georjão Fernandes – Controlling dissent: new surveillance technologies and the policing of social movements in Brazil

At 5pm, Eduardo Georjão Fernandes will speak about his research on how police forces employ new surveillance technologies to control grassroots dissent in Brazil

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In his research, Eduardo Georjão Fernandes seeks to study mechanisms of control and surveillance in interaction with social mobilization. Specifically, his research project focuses on the analysis of how new surveillance technologies have been incorporated into the policing of social movements in recent Brazilian context. In that country, the occurrence of a huge mobilization process, the cycle of protests of 2013 (also known as “Jornadas de junho”), has brought to the fore several questions about the ways in which police institutions control social movements. On the other hand, Brazil has recently hosted important mega events, the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. For the security of such mega events, a technological apparatus was created, with the construction of control centers that congregate different institutions and develop monitoring activities using technological devices. Based on this context, this study seeks to investigate the following question: how does the interaction between these parallel processes (huge mobilizations and technological investment) transform the policing strategies to control social movements? The theoretical framework is primarily based on contentious politics literature, specifically in what refers to the concepts of policing strategies and policing styles, combined with contributions from surveillance studies. Methodologically, the research is based on a qualitative approach to study a specific case – the city of Porto Alegre (Brazil) in 2013. The analysis is divided in 3 steps: (1) identifying policing tactics and strategies; (2) describing the dimensions that interact in the construction of these strategies; (3) explaining, by causal mechanisms, the specific role of surveillance technologies in this context. The results indicate that tactics derived from distinct policing styles were adopted (sometimes, simultaneously) during the events, characterizing a moment of experimentation and the configuration of hybrid strategies. The production of these policing strategies resulted from interactions with protesters, the media, the local government and a civil rights coalition. The role of technologies in these interactions was explained by two main mechanisms: anticipation, which means the emphasis on a preventive logic of policing to avoid surprises or unexpected situations and to retain the control of public sphere; invisibilization, which means that technologies make repression less visible and thus less exposed to criticism.

News

05/03/2019

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.

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.

21/02/2019

Applications now open! Third Edition of the Summer School on Methods for the Study of Political Participation and Mobilisation

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Applicants must send their application materials no later than March the 17th 2019.

Publications

Journal Article - 2019

Ballots and barricades enhanced: far‐right ‘movement parties’ and movement‐electoral interactions

Andrea Pirro
This contribution enhances our understanding of the contemporary far right by focusing on the neglected links between movements and elections within the broader context of contention.

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.