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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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2016-12-20

Call for Papers – The Politics of Big Data at the ECPR General Conference

Papers proposals are invited for the upcoming Section on “Political Sciences and the Big Data Challenge From Big Data in Politics to the Politics of Big Data” at the ECPR General Conference (Oslo 6-9 September 2017).

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In occasion of the next ECPR General Conference (Oslo 6-9 September 2017) we invite papers for any of the panels in the section “Political Sciences and the Big Data Challenge From Big Data in Politics to the Politics of Big Data“. More detailed info on panels and the overall section can be found below.

Please submit paper proposals to the section chairs elena.pavan@sns.it and alice.mattoni@sns.it by January the 15th 2017 including the following info: (1) papers titles and abstracts (no more than 500 words); (2) institutional affliliation; (3) institutional email address.

We will then arrange the selected papers in panels and submit them to the ECPR via their electronic platform. Please note that paper authors must be registered in the ECPR electronic platform with the email address they will include in the paper proposals.

Section outline and themes

This section aims to open a much-needed space for developing within the ECPR context a critical and informed reflection on the multi-faceted nexus between Big Data and political science. It understands Big Data not solely in terms of large-scale datasets of textual or digital data that require us to tune our research practices. More radically, it starts from a conceptualization of Big Data as a complex set of cultural, political and scientific knowledge practices that challenge the traditional modes in which research questions are posed and framed, analyses are performed, as well as the ways in which results are communicated to the public and thus affect public discourse and debates. Consistently, the section comprises a set of panels that aim to investigate two interrelated aspects. On the one hand, panels will engage with how Big Data are leveraging our understanding of political dynamics within complex societies. In this respect, the section will consider applications of Big Data in connection to public opinion and institutional politics (party dynamics, political communications, etc.) as well as in relation to the study of contemporary forms of collective action and unconventional political participation (social movements, digital activism and the like). On the other, panels will develop a specific take on Big Data, considering how they become a contested research and political terrain, and thus inviting critical reflections on methodological and epistemological implications but also on the power dynamics that entwine with the increased datification of our societies. In this sense, this Section offers a unique occasion to foster the convergence of scholars and researchers currently working on the value of Big Data for studying politics but also on the politics of Big Data themselves. With this aim in mind, the panels in this Section will welcome papers employing different theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches on Big Data, with a single-case or a comparative multinational and/or multiplatform perspective. More specifically, the Section will welcome papers on the following topics.

Big data, public opinion and institutional politics

Digital social behaviors and, particularly, social media communications and interactions are increasingly considered a fundamental component of electoral campaigns, governmental and legislative dynamics as well as of the relationships and the interactions between party members and political leaders with their constituencies. Thus, it is in the online public discourse unravelling on social media platforms that politicians and policy-makers lean to an increasing extent to have the pulse of ongoing and ever evolving political trends and public opinions. This panel invites papers that apply Big Data to the study of contemporary political institutional and/or public opinion dynamics with national or comparative perspectives thus providing a space to inquiry about how this type of data and related methodological and analytical practices can leverage our understanding of traditional political science topics.

Big data and unconventional political participations

The rapid diffusion and increased use of social media platforms in grassroots politics has relevant consequences for the organization of social movements and their forms of protest. While more traditional forms of collective actions still exist, grassroots politics often follows a logic of connective action according to which collective actors are less central than in the past for the success of mobilizations. Moreover, activists lean increasingly on web-based platforms and internet services that produce Big Data flows worldwide. This panel invites papers that investigate to what extent Big Data are changing the way in which activists organize and protest with national or comparative perspectives thus providing a space to inquiry about how this type of data and related methodological and analytical practices can leverage our understanding of grassroots political participation today.

A paradigm shift for political science? Discussing Big Data epistemology and its implication for political studies

Recent events, such as the last USA Presidential elections, have clearly shown the potentials and, perhaps, even to a larger extent, the criticalities of predictive analytical practices in the study of political dynamics. The time seems more than ripe to begin re-addressing the methodological practices that underpin our understanding of sociopolitical dynamics – in particular in relation to our extensive use of large-scale digital and textual datasets which are deemed to be “representative” of citizens’ political preferences, desires, and priorities. Consistently, this panel invites papers that address, theoretically or empirically, the potentialities and the criticalities of Big Data as a new epistemological practice for producing valid and socially relevant scientific knowledge in the field of political science.

Big data as a political terrain: deconstructing and approaching critically datification

Big Data are not a neutral field of practice and knowledge, in particular when it comes to politics. Political actors, economic actors and media actors understand in different ways the concept of big data. More precisely, when political parties and social movements engage with Big Data, they often evoke specific, and contrasting, understanding of what datification processes means in and for politics. This panel invites papers that deconstruct and approach critically processes of datification in contemporary politics by looking at the intersections between different political cultures and (big) data cultures, focusing on the discourses and imaginaries that political actors develop around Big Data, and investigating the media practices related to the construction, manipulation and subversion of Big Data within the political realm.

 

News

10/01/2022

SNS announces 14 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, Italy is pleased to announce 14 PhD fellowships beginning on November 1, 2022.

16/07/2021

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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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26/02/2020

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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.

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Publications

Journal Article - 2022

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.

Journal Article - 2022

Populists in power and conspiracy theories

Andrea Pirro & Paul Taggart
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).

Journal Article - 2022

The Three Faces of Populism in Power: Policy, Policies and Politics

Manuela Caiani & Paolo Graziano
The article explores the consequences of the increasing presence of both left- and right-wing populist parties in government, critically reflecting on the recent scholarship on the topic, underlining promising venues for future research and outlining a conceptual framework which constitutes the background of this special issue entitled ‘Populism in Power and its Consequences’.

Monograph - 2022

Resisting the Backlash: Street Protest in Italy

Donatella della Porta, Niccolò Bertuzzi, Daniela Chironi, Chiara Milan, Martín Portos & Lorenzo Zamponi
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.

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

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

Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Caterina Froio & Andrea Pirro
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.

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.