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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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2019-06-18

Call for papers: “Class without consciousness” – The Politics of Fragmented Class Identities

The call for papers is now open for a two-day conference on class and identities at the Scuola Normale Superiore on 14-15 November 2019

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COSMOS, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, Italy, 14-15 November 2019

Organizers: Donatella della Porta, Linus Westheuser (SNS)

Keynote lectures: Donatella della Porta (SNS), Mike Savage (London School of Economics), Klaus Dörre (University of Jena), and Don Kalb(University of Bergen)

In the crisis of neoliberal globalization, the socio-structural bases of political conflict are returning to the top of the agenda. Surges of the populist right relied on winning over segments of the working class to an anti-immigration coalition. At the same time,a socialist ‘class left’,often spearheaded by young, precarious segments of the new middle class, has been showing signs of a revival. Amidst a secular decline of union power, strategies of rank-and-file organizing at times proved successful in uniting workers across ethnic and other divides. And in countries hit by the 2008 crisis, contention over austerity politics and precarity gave rise to cross-class alliances in the electoral and protest arenas. Pronouncements of a ‘death of class’ made in the 1990s today seem questionable at best.

Yet the prominence of class vocabulary had not only waned in social science research, but also in public discourses and the self-understandings of many wage dependent people. While rising inequalities, the power of capital over labor, and austerity politics create new distributional conflicts, divisions between different segments of working people –by education and skills, occupation, sector, ethnicity and citizenship, geographic location, precarity, gender, and age –proliferate positions within the class structure, fragment it and render it opaque in everyday life. This creates a contradictory moment in which the increasing prevalenceof class inequality coincides with exceptionally weak class identities: “Class without consciousness” (J.Stacul).

The conference wants to provide an academic forum for discussing the dynamic, contradictory, and often hidden politics of class identity in an age of rising inequality and opaque class structures. In particular, we are interested in the following themes:

  • How does the fragmentation and demobilization of class identities help understand right-wing populism and the relative weakness of left-wing social blocs across the West? How are class identities mobilized and reshaped in alliances on the radical right?
  • How does the partial eclipse of the class cleavage by a new cleavage over migration and national closure play out at the level of identities?
  • Where do we see the persistence of a sense of class relations in other forms of identity discourse, such as those of national belonging, moral boundaries, populism, or ‘citizenism’? What new forms of class consciousness are emerging?
  • Do experiences of precarity obstruct or rekindle the formation of class consciousness?
  • How are class identities de-and repoliticized at intersections with other forms of social organization, distinction and domination, such as ethnicity, gender, and sexuality?
  • Which identities can progressive class alliances between workers and parts of the middle class appeal to? Which misunderstandings should be avoided?

The conference invites contributions from all related academic fields, including political and cultural sociology, party politics, social movement studies, anthropology, political economy, social psychology, cultural and media studies, and others. We also welcome input from practitioners,organizers, strategists, and activists,working to build alliances across class divides.Get in touch to discuss alternative presentation formats.

Please send an abstract of your planned contribution (max. 500 words) by 30 June 2019 to linus.westheuser@sns.it.

 

News

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.

21/06/2019

Call for papers: "The Nation and the Radical Left - Practices and Discourses of National Identity in Left-Wing Politics"

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The call for papers is now open for a conference on national identities and left-wing politics.

18/06/2019

Call for papers: “Class without consciousness” – The Politics of Fragmented Class Identities

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The call for papers is now open for a two-day conference on class and identities at the Scuola Normale Superiore on 14-15 November 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.