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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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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.

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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.

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

News

22/07/2019

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

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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.

21/06/2019

Call for papers: "The Nation and the Radical Left - Practices and Discourses of National Identity in Left-Wing Politics"

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The call for papers is now open for a conference on national identities and left-wing politics.

18/06/2019

Call for papers: “Class without consciousness” – The Politics of Fragmented Class Identities

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The call for papers is now open for a two-day conference on class and identities at the Scuola Normale Superiore on 14-15 November 2019

05/03/2019

A dialogue on labour, trade unions and conflicts

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On the 22nd of March, from 4pm to 7pm, Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore) and Maurizio Landini (Secretary General of CGIL) will discuss about labour, trade unions and conflicts.

05/02/2019

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

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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.

04/02/2019

17 Fully funded 4-years PhD positions in Political Science and Sociology and in Transnational Governance, Scuola Normale Superiore

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The grant is for 4 years. It is open to students of all nationalities. Coverage of research expenses (conferences, summer schools, research periods abroads) is provided.

Publications

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

From the Rainy Place to the Burnt Palace: How Social Movements Form their Political Strategies. The Case of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba

Leonidas Oikonomakis
Exploring the case of the cocaleros of the Chapare, this article argues that more emphasis should be placed on mechanisms that are internal to the movements, such as: (a) the resonance of other political experiences at home and abroad, (b) internal struggles for ideological hegemony, and (c) the political formation of their grassroots.

Monograph - 2019

Resistere alla crisi. I percorsi dell'azione sociale diretta

Lorenzo Bosi, Lorenzo Zamponi
Uno studio in profondità su solidarietà, mutualismo e organizzazione dal basso nell'Italia della crisi.

Journal Article - 2019

Digital movement parties: a comparative analysis of the technopolitical cultures and the participation platforms of the Movimento 5 Stelle and the Piratenpartei

Marco Deseriis
This article contributes to the debate on technopopulism by accounting for the critical role played by two different technopolitical cultures in shaping the conception and design of the online participation platforms of the Italian Five Star Movement and the German Pirate Party.

Monograph - 2018

The Contentious Politics of Higher Education. Struggles and Power Relations within English and Italian Universities

Lorenzo Cini
Drawing on neo-institutionalist and social movement approaches, this book analyses the impact that recent student mobilizations have brought about within Italian and English universities in terms of student services, curriculum organization, and governance structures.

Chapter in edited book - 2018

I post, you rally, she tweets…and we all occupy. The challenges of hybrid spatiality in the Occupy Wall Street mobilizations

Alice Mattoni
Exploring the interconnections between camps and platforms, this chapter shows how a fluid conception of spatiality emerged in the Occupy Wall Street mobilizations, which had vital implications for the participation patterns of activists.

Journal Article - 2018

New Technologies as a Neglected Social Movement Outcome: The Case of Activism against Animal Experimentation

Manès Weisskircher
Based on novel empirical research, this paper analyzes a crucial and understudied case of a movement pushing for new technologies: the animal rights movement and its efforts to push for alternatives to animal experimentation.