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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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2019-02-05

Call for Papers – Social Movements and Parties in a Fractured Media Landscape

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.

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Cosmos (The Centre for Social Movement Studies), Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, Italy, 1-2 July 2019

Deadline for abstracts: 15 March 2019

 

This two-day symposium held under the auspices of the journal ‘Information, Communication & Society’ (iCS) considers the shifting terrain of contemporary democratic politics. Over the course of this decade, a wave of popular discontent swept across much of the world, stoked by the financial crisis, the ensuing austerity and deep disenchantment with political institutions in both liberal democracies and autocracies. Social movements channelled and articulated aspirations for greater democratic accountability and participation, more equitable economic policies, greater concern for social welfare and climate change. Against a secular decline in party membership, voter turnout and institutional trust, movements have rekindled a participatory imaginary challenging the status quo of many democratic countries.

Criticized for a supposed inability to enact the political and social change they advocated, social movements were harbingers of a new political vehicle, the movement party. The rise and electoral success of party movements—from Podemos in Spain, to Cinque Stelle in Italy, Jobbik in Hungary, Momentum in the UK or La Republique en Marche in France—captured aspirations for progressive change as well as anger and anxieties about globalisation, migration and the socio-economic and cultural upheaval that such processes have wrought. Occupying the breadth of the ideological spectrum—from the far right to the radical left—these movements put forward a radical criticism of political or media institutions, advocating participatory as well as populist reformulations of notions of citizenship, civic practices and organisational structures. Against the odds, they have scaled up, endured and have the potential to become entrenched despite the initially limited resources available to them. Notwithstanding their ideological differences, digital media appear to have provided important opportunities for the emergence of techno-populist ‘connective’ movements and parties in media systems largely unfavourable to them, thereby posing renewed challenges to incumbents.

Considering the above, the symposium will grapple with such questions as: what does the rising prominence of social and/or party movements mean for democracy? What are the consequences of their rise for representative democracy? What explains their presence on both the left and the right of the political spectrum? How does their digital media use bear on their organisational structures and cultures or their relationship with the media?

The symposium invites scholars and other informed observers to present papers discussing how over the last decade, social movements, party movements and other collective actors emerging in the fractured contemporary media landscape have produced knowledge, learn and develop new or overhaul existing participatory cultures and techno-populist identities; congeal competitive political agendas that challenge established political positions; rekindle trust and even faith in political leadership and democratic governance; (re)shaped (un)conventional citizenship norms, practices and action repertoires, harnessing affordances of self-publication technologies, data analytics and news media values to maximize their visibility, appeal and reach while also at times critiquing the dominant commercial logics of media and social media companies.

Building on these considerations, we encourage submissions that address but are not limited to the following aims:

  • Discuss media strategies and/or tactics of social and/or party movements and individual activists, how they relate to ongoing transformation of media systems, shifting media diets and practices that are increasingly dominated by the use of digital and social media;
  • Map the use of digital technologies in social and/or party movements, the extent to which it inflects on organisational networks, structures and cultures and whether these depart from late-modern and pre-crisis models of political organisation;
  • Consider how support for social and/or party movements is articulated publicly in squares, on social platforms, through partisan outlets, in mainstream media or combinations thereof and potential reasons for them;
  • Investigate the language use of social and/or party movements—and responses to it by institutions and various section of the public—particularly as it challenges deliberative norms or if it is associated with disruptive communication techniques such as click-baiting, trolling, spoofing, making use of disinformation or misinformation;
  • Reflect on the conversion of some movements into parties, the tensions emerging between the grassroots and the leadership once social and/or party movements enter institutions and the extent to which digital media may mitigate or exacerbate such conflicts;
  • Investigate knowledge transfer and learning processes that transform movements, their support base, organization or goals and the role of digital media in such processes;
  • Propose ethical methodological innovations especially through the deployment of trace data gathering tools that can facilitate access to and rapport with hard-to-reach, research-apprehensive movement actors like far-right movement parties;
  • Develop innovative qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods techniques to explore the use of digital media within social and/ or party movements;
  • Reflect on the bearing of (digital) media and communication strategies and tactics on the electoral success of social and/or party movements in local, national or European elections;
  • Explore contrasts in the popular mobilization and/or electoral success of populist party movements on the right and the left while contemplating the contribution that digital and social media made to it.

We invite 500-word abstracts outlining empirical, theoretical or policy-oriented papers that address these or cognate topics. The abstract should point to study conclusions. It should be accompanied by a 100-word biography of the presenter(s) together with contact details. Abstracts/biographies/contact details should be emailed to Dan Mercea (dan.mercea.1@city.ac.uk).

All papers presented at the symposium will receive comments from a discussant. Following the symposium, paper authors will be invited to submit their manuscripts for publication in a special issue of the journal Information, Communication & Society.

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Publications

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Populists in power and conspiracy theories

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Looking at three cases of populists in government – Orbán in Hungary, Trump in the United States, and Chávez in Venezuela – we examine the definition of conspiring elites (who), the circumstances under which conspiracy theories are propagated (when), and the ultimate purpose of conspiratorial framing (why).

Monograph - 2022

Resisting the Backlash: Street Protest in Italy

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Drawing interview material, together with extensive data from the authors’ original social movement database, this book examines the development of social movements in resistance to perceived political "regression" and a growing right-wing backlash.

Journal Article - 2022

The mobilization for spatial justice in divided societies. Urban commons, trust reconstruction and socialist memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Chiara Milan
The article contributes to the urban studies literature and the study of social movements in divided societies by disclosing the distinctive features and mobilizing potential that the notion of urban commons retains in a war-torn society with a socialist legacy.

Journal Article - 2022

Casting a new light on the democratic spectator

Andrea Felicetti
Scholarship in relation to democratic theory tends to see spectatorship as a state in which citizens are politically uninterested, isolated, and passive. In this article, the author shows that positive spectatorship occurs when citizens show an interest in one or more political problems and, together with others, strive to understand them better.

Journal Article - 2022

Far right: The significance of an umbrella concept

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This contribution makes the case for a shift in boundaries between the (populist) radical right and the extreme right, arguing for the systematic use of the term ‘far right’.

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Performing (during) the Coronavirus crisis: The Italian populist radical right between national opposition and subnational government

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The first year of COVID-19 confirmed the standing of the populist radical right in Italy. While sitting in opposition at the national level, Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy and Matteo Salvini's League shared common criticism of the Conte II government but experienced diverging trajectories in terms of popularity. These changes can be partly attributed to the different agency of their leaderships. Overall and collectively considered, the Italian populist radical right broke even during the first year of COVID-19, but the crisis exposed the first cracks in Salvini's leadership.

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Contentious Politics in Emergency Critical Junctures

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Based on existing research on the first phases of the pandemic Covid-19, this Element addresses the ways in with the health emergency had an impact on the repertoire of action, the organizational networks and the collective framing of progressive social movements that adapted to the pandemic conditions and the related crises, but also tried to transform them.

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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.

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Far-right protest mobilisation in Europe: Grievances, opportunities and resources

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In this article, we bridge previous research on the far right and social movements to advance hypotheses on the drivers of far-right protest mobilisation based on grievances, opportunities and resource mobilisation models. We use an original dataset combining novel data on 4,845 far-right protest events in 11 East and West European countries (2008–2018), with existing measures accounting for the (political, economic and cultural) context of mobilisation.