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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

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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.

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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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26/02/2020

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

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12/12/2019

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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.

22/07/2019

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Publications

Edited Volume - 2021

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Populism is booming across all the nuances of the political spectrum. It occupies relevant positions in national parliaments, in governmental coalitions with mainstream parties or as successful challengers of the political status quo. This volume sheds new light on the topic from different methodological and theoretical angles and offers evidence from a variety of cases on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions on populism’s emergence and consolidation in Europe over the past 30 years.

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This contribution is conceived as a resource on the state of European populist parties before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It reports on cross-national comparative findings generated by data collected from 30 European countries as to the state of populist parties in one calendar year (2019) and provides an extensive qualitative overview of the national cases.

Journal Article - 2021

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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 - 2021

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Monograph - 2021

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Journal Article - 2020

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Monograph - 2020

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Journal Article - 2019

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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.

Monograph - 2019

Social Mobilization beyond Ethnicity. Civic Activism and Grassroots Movements in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Journal Article - 2019

Close ever, distant never? Integrating protest event and social network approaches into the transformation of the Hungarian far right

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