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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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DEMOS – Democracy in Europe and the Mobilization of Society

demos

 

INTRO TO DEMOS:

This project focused upon forms of participatory democracy elaborated ‘from below’ and implemented both in the internal organization of social movements and in experiments with deliberative decision-making. In particular, the project analyzed the issue of active democracy emerging in the theories and practices of movements demanding a ‘globalization from below’.

Social movements criticize the fundamentals of conventional practices of politics, and experiment with new models of democracy both in their internal structure and in the ways in which they interact with political institutions. Of particular interest for the project were the conceptions and practices of democracy developed in the global movement/s mobilizing transnationally and demanding social justice and participatory democracy.
The ensuing debate about democracy is particularly relevant both for the development of civil society, and for the legitimization of political institutions at local, national and supranational levels. Our research – focusing on six European countries (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Switzerland), as well as the EU itself – embraced an analysis of documents pertaining to both movements and public institutions, websites, semi-structured interviews with Non-Governmental Organizations and public administrators, surveys of movement activists, participant observation of movement groups and experiences of participatory decision-making.

 

FUNDING:

A project funded by the European Commission, Directorate General for Research.

6th Framework Programme (FP 6) Priority 7, Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge Based Society

http://www.cordis.lu/citizens (contract no. CIT2-CT2004-506026)

and (for the Swiss case) Federal Office for Education and Science, Switzerland

http://www.bbw.admin.ch (contract no. 03.0482).

 

CONSORTIUM INFORMATION:

Project Coordinator: Prof. Donatella Della Porta (European University Institute, Florence)

  • European University Institute (Donatella Della Porta)
  • University of Kent at Canterbury (Christopher Rootes)
  • Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (Dieter Rucht)
  • Università di Urbino (Mario Pianta)
  • Université de Paris I – Sorbonne (Isabelle Sommier)
  • Instituto de Estudios Sociales de Andalucía (Manuel Jiménez)
  • Université de Genève (Marco Giugni)

 

SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL COVERAGE OF THE PROJECT:

 

demosmap

 

France | Italy | Germany | Spain | Switzerland | United Kingdom | The transnational level

1 Sep 2004 – 31 Aug 2008 (the time-frame changes according to different WPs).

 

RESEARCH TECNIQUES:

Website Analysis | Content Analysis | Semi-structured Interviews | Survey | Participant Observation

 

OBSERVATIONAL UNITS:

  • Websites of selected social movement organizations (SMOs) (WP2);
  • Formal documents (i.e. constitutions or mission statements) produced by SMOs (WP3);
  • Representatives of the sampled SMOs (WP4);
  • Participants in the Athens European Social Forum (May 4-7, 2006);
  • “Critical discourse moments” in meetings and activities of SMOs.

 

RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS (PDF FILES):

 

DELIVERABLES (PDF FILES):

 

AVAILABLE DATASETS:

  • WP2 – analysis of websites of selected social movement organizations (SMOs)
  • WP3 – content analysis of formal documents (i.e. constitutions or mission statements) produced by SMOs
  • WP4 – semi-structured interviews with representatives of the sampled SMOs
  • WP5 – survey of participants in the Athens European Social Forum
  • WP6 – standardized observation of controversies in a sub-sample of SMOs

 

MAIN PUBLICATIONS:

della Porta (ed.), 2006, The Global Justice Movement: Cross-national and Transnational Perspectives, Boulder, Paradigm

della Porta (ed.), 2009, Democracy in Social Movements, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

della Porta (ed.), 2009, Another Europe: Conceptions and Practices of Democracy in the European Social Forums, London-New York, Routledge

della Porta and D. Rucht (eds.), 2013, Meeting Democracy. Power and Deliberation in Global Justice Movements, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

News

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.

22/07/2019

Protest for a future: international report on #FridaysForFuture and the climate strike

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Composition, mobilization and motives of the participants in Fridays For Future climate protests on 15 March 2019, in 13 European cities. A multi-country collaboration report, with contributions from COSMOS researchers Lorenzo Zamponi, Donatella della Porta, Martín Portos, Niccolò Bertuzzi and Daniela Chironi.

Publications

Edited Volume - 2021

Varieties of Populism in Europe in Times of Crises

Manuela Caiani & Paolo Graziano
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.

Journal Article - 2021

European populism before the pandemic: ideology, Euroscepticism, electoral performance, and government participation of 63 parties in 30 countries

Paul Taggart & Andrea Pirro
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

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.

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

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.

Journal Article - 2020

We protect the forest beings, and the forest beings protect us: Cultural resistance in the Ecuadorian Amazonia

Leonidas Oikonomakis
The inhabitants of Sarayaku have forged an anti-colonial, anti-extractivist, and anti-capitalist resistance culture. How did that culture develop? How is it articulated? Moreover, how is kawsak sacha positioned in the discussion over the rights of Nature in Latin America? Based on three months of ethnographic research in the community of Sarayaku and more than twenty-five interviews with community members, this article addresses those important questions and argues that securing legal protection may not be a long-term resistance strategy.

Monograph - 2020

The Contentious Politics of Expertise. Experts, activism and grassroots environmentalism

Riccardo Emilio Chesta
Based on mixed-methods research and ethnographic fieldwork at various sites in Italy, this book examines the relationship between expertise and activism in grassroots environmentalism. Bridging the sociology of expertise and contentious politics, the book shows how conflict transforms, rather than inhibits, expertise production into a ‘contentious politics by other means’.

Journal Article - 2019

Alliance building and eventful protests: comparing Spanish and Portuguese trajectories under the Great Recession

Martín Portos & Tiago Carvalho
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.