logo

Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

logo
2021-07-16

Prof. della Porta to lead VolkswagenStiftung-funded ECSEuro project

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.

Picture description

Enacting Citizenship and Solidarity in Europe “From Below”: Local Initiatives, Intersectional Strategies, and Transnational Networks [ECSEuro]

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. With ten city-based case studies, we analyze initiatives in the fields of migrant rights, housing, and care work, and focus on the little-addressed challenge of developing intersectional strategies and networks beyond borders.

In the last two decades, the financial and economic crisis, the crisis of refugee politics, and the recent crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic have increased the challenges for Europe: While the nation-states dominating the European project have hardly been able to find adequate responses to these challenges, at the local level new forms of participation, democratic innovations, and practices of solidarity and citizenship are experimented with. In the humanities and social sciences, interest has grown in local political initiatives and the newly perceived role of cities in addressing global social problems and expanding democracy. The project proposed here takes up the question of how new, promising approaches can be identified at local scales vis-à-vis the longstanding challenges for Europe to establish cross-border cooperation and social cohesion, particularly regarding the social fields of migrant rights, housing, and care work; these have been deeply affected by the aforementioned crises. These three fields all manifest innovative approaches to urban politics, albeit with different spatial structures: 1) the field of migrant rights, with tensions between exclusionary (supra)national policies towards non-citizens and campaigns for the inclusion of all local residents; 2) the field of housing, with contestations over affordable housing increasingly shaping the social question at the urban scale; and 3) the field of care, with the distribution, recognition, and democratization of care becoming an urgent issue for urban communities.

Arguing that only research addressing the local scale and its multi-scalar entanglements can provide adequate responses to European challenges, the project team conducts ten qualitative case studies in European cities (two each in Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark). We focus on two aspects that have not yet been sufficiently explored: First, we analyze how political initiatives by civil society organizations and municipalities enact citizenship and solidarity at local scales, re-articulating concepts most often associated with nation-states, and generating alternative approaches to dealing with the challenge of integrating and democratizing Europe. Second, we examine how these local initiatives develop intersectional strategies and networks beyond borders in connecting different social fields and places, dealing with the emerging and as yet under-researched challenge of thematic and geographical isolation. We plan to study local initiatives’ discursive references, online environments, and socio-spatial relations by triangulating three qualitative methods: frame analysis, digital ethnography, and global ethnography. This project will contribute to debates on urban social movements, civic engagement and municipal politics, intersectional studies, European studies, and social theory; it will sharpen concepts of citizenship, solidarity and democracy in a practice-theoretical, intersectional, and transnational perspective. We aim to identify “best practices” as well as their potential for reviving a democratic Europe “from below.”

Project consortium:

➢ Prof. Dr. Dr. Donatella della Porta, Centre on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos), Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy
➢ Prof. Dr. Martin Bak Jørgensen, DEMOS (Democracy, Migration and Society Research Group), Aalborg University, Denmark
➢ Prof. Dr. Mojca Pajnik, The Peace Institute, Slovenia
➢ Dr. Sarah Schilliger, Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies, University of Bern, Switzerland
➢ Dr. Helge Schwiertz (main PI), Department of Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Germany

News

16/07/2021

Prof. della Porta to lead VolkswagenStiftung-funded ECSEuro project

alt
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

alt
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

alt
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

alt
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

alt
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

alt
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.

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.

Monograph - 2019

Social Mobilization beyond Ethnicity. Civic Activism and Grassroots Movements in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Chiara Milan
This book offers an in-depth investigation of the emergence and spread of social mobilizations that transcend ethnicity in societies violently divided along ethno-national lines. Using Bosnia Herzegovina as a case study, the book explores episodes of mobilization which have superseded ethno-nationalist cleavages.

Journal Article - 2019

Close ever, distant never? Integrating protest event and social network approaches into the transformation of the Hungarian far right

Andrea Pirro, Elena Pavan, Adam Fagan & David Gazsi
In this article, we extend our understanding of fringe politics to include relational and thematic elements, namely, the relationship of far-right collective actors with their broader network and the claims made within it. By focusing on often neglected relational and thematic aspects, the study provides new ways to analyse fringe collective actors, the relationship with their environment and the evolution of such a relationship over time.