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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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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.

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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

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

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.

Publications

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).

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.

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

Andrea Pirro
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’.

Journal Article - 2022

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

Andrea Pirro
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.

Monograph - 2022

Contentious Politics in Emergency Critical Junctures

Donatella della Porta
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.

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.