logo

Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

logo
2019-07-22

Protest for a future: international report on #FridaysForFuture and the climate strike

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.

Picture description

The #FridaysForFuture climate protests mobilised more than 1.6 million people around the globe in March 2019. Through a school strike, a new generation has been galvanised, representing a historical turn in climate activism. This wave of climate protest mobilisation is unique in its tactics, global scope and appeal to teenage school students. Media coverage of these protests and high-level national and international political meetings involving the movement’s icon, Greta Thunberg, illustrate a level of global attention that no previous youth movement has ever received.

A team of social scientists from universities across Europe organised a survey of the global FFF strike events on March 15. The team surveyed protesters in 13 cities in nine European countries using the same research design to collect data, following the well-established protest survey methodology used previously in the “Caught in the Act of Protest: Contextualizing Contestation” (CCC) project.

Demographically, the 14-19 age group is significantly over-represented among the respondents. More surprising is the predominance of female participants, particularly among teenagers. The authors believe that the movement’s female leaders may have a strong mobilising effect on (particularly young) women. Education remains a strong predictor of participation. The movement’s ability to create engaged young citizens through their climate activism is also highly significant, with average figures for first- time participants (among school students) on March 15 at around 38% across all countries.

Despite the adults participating in solidarity with school students, the survey data shows that the involvement of peers seems to matter more for school students. 45% of all school students agreed with the statement that Greta Thunberg had been a factor in their decision to join the Climate Strike. Compared with the adults in the survey, school students are seldom engaged as financial contributors or active members of environmental NGOs. Activists showed strong identification with both instrumental and expressive motivations. To a higher degree than adults, young respondents stated a wish to defend their interests, although they did not take success in this aim for granted. We can observe that participants feel distrustful about their current national governments’ capacity to deal with global warming, but they still push these governments for climate policies. In almost every country, student and adult participants are extremely sceptical about relying on companies and the market to solve environmental problems. There are significant differences between countries, and between adults and school students, over stopping climate change through individual lifestyle changes, highlighting that the movement may actually be quite heterogeneous in some regards.

The significant presence of young first-timers in the strike signals the emergence of a new generation of climate activists and the possible development of FFF as a broader, grassroots movement, with a strong female presence and reliance on social media and peer networks. It highlights limited commitment to established environmental organisations, with varying interpretations of the importance of lifestyle politics and a hopeful attitude towards the future. Further research will be needed to follow the development of the first mass youth mobilisation on climate change.

Download full report

 

*Picture published by Tommi Boom on Flickr under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

News

10/01/2022

SNS announces 14 fully-funded PhD positions

alt
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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.