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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Peter McLoughlin – “Exiting Political Violence: The Northern Ireland Case and the Importance of Providing Militants with a Viable ‘Exit Strategy'”

Time and Place: Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore – Palazzo Strozzi, Florence – Room Filippo Strozzi, 7 November 2017, 2.30pm

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This paper looks at Northern Ireland, a site of sustained ethnic conflict from the late 1960s until the emergence of a peace process in the 1990s. Focusing on the latter, it considers how the most enduring and lethal paramilitary group in this conflict, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), was persuaded to abandon violence and adopt a peaceful approach to Irish reunification. In doing so, it explores the role of other Irish nationalist elites, particularly those representing non-violent stands of Irish nationalism. Accordingly, the paper looks specifically at the macro-level of the Northern Ireland peace process, relating the structural conditions which prompted the PIRA’s change in strategy to the way in which outside actors were able to effect republicans’ perceptions of their situation and available options.

The paper utilises Zartman’s (1991) conception of a “mutually hurting stalemate,” suggesting that by the late 1980s senior republicans had recognised the structural constraints of their position – though the PIRA could not be defeated, it had been successfully contained by British security forces. However, the paper builds upon Zartman’s ideas by discussing the crucial intervention of non-violent Irish nationalist actors at this stage, showing how they helped to move the situation beyond this stalemate by providing republicans with an honourable “exit strategy.” Specifically, the paper explains how an effective alliance of constitutional nationalist actors – the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the Irish government, and Irish-American elites – offered a way for republicans to combine their energies with theirs in a peaceful approach towards Irish reunification. Crucially, this allowed the PIRA leadership to present its rank and file with a viable, political alternative to violence, minimising dissent from those who claimed that a change in strategy surrendered the ideal of a united Ireland. The paper suggests that this allowed Irish republican leaders to steer their movement towards peaceful politics without significant splits – a process which may have implications for other, similar scenarios.

News

18/05/2018

Donatella della Porta at the Belleuve Forum in Berlin - May 23, 2018

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On May 23rd, 2018, the Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier talks with Donatella della Porta, Christoph Möllers and David Van Reybrouck about anti-politics, anti-establishment and the dangers of indifference to the political to address the 2018 topic of the Forum "Society without Politics - Testing Liberal Democracies".

08/04/2018

Austeridad, capitalismo y conflicto social. Nuevas tendencias en el estudio de los movimientos sociales - An interview with Donatella della Porta

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An interview with Donatella della Porta realized by COES - Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social

12/03/2018

"Standing up for Science" - a documentary by Dieter Rucht

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A documentary by Dieter Rucht on the 2017 March for Science in Washington, D.C. - now available on YouTube.

Publications

Edited Volume - 2018

Solidarity Mobilizations in the ‘Refugee Crisis’. Contentious Moves

Donatella della Porta (ed.)
This edited volume ddresses a gap in research on social movements that has disregarded the origins of discontent and overlooks protest as a resource of the powerless; it offers insight into how the movement of refugees across the European Union and elsewhere activates political opportunities; it explores claims to citizenship made by refugees within processes of knowledge production and the mobilization of emotions

Monograph - 2018

I movimenti animalisti in Italia. Strategie, politiche e pratiche di attivismo.

Niccolò Bertuzzi
Il volume si focalizza su coloro che in Italia si occupano di benessere, cura, diritti e liberazione animale all'interno di contesti organizzativi. Grazie alla somministrazione di una survey, interviste agli attivisti e analisi dei frame, emergono una notevole varietà di strategie, pratiche e riferimenti valoriali, la contemporanea presenza di lobby e conflitto, e la natura complessa di un fenomeno al centro dell’attenzione mediatica ma ancora poco studiato in termini sociologici.