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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Contextualizing Contestation: Caught in the Act of Protest

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Donatella della Porta, Lorenzo Bosi, and Massimiliano Andretta

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END YEAR 2017

OVERVIEW

This research project is part of a broader cross-national comparative project, coordinated by Bert Klandermans (Free University of Amsterdam) and Stefaan Walgrave (University of Antwerp) and financed by the European Science Foundation.

Protest participation has been surging throughout Europe and the world as a whole. In most countries political protest has become the modal repertoire citizens employ to demand political changes or to express indignation. Increasingly, governments are confronted with citizens in the act of protest. At the same time, societies have changed dramatically during the last few decades. In our globalizing world, transnational and supranational political institutions impact on people’s daily lives and have transformed the supply of politics. Simultaneously, networks rather than formal organizations have become the prime mode of organizing in our society, while new technologies such as the Internet, e-mail, and cell phones have dramatically changed our means of communication. Yet, how people mobilize for protest in these ‘new’ societal arrangements remains poorly understood.

This project attempts to find answers to the questions of who participates in protest, for what reason, and how they are mobilised. As the motivational dynamics of different forms of participation vary, we chose to focus on one particular type of protest, namely, protest demonstrations. The decision to take part in a protest demonstration is not taken in isolation but within a wider social and political context. We will investigate the impact of contextual variation on the dynamics of protest by comparing demonstrations in different countries and mobilizing contexts. Studies of protest behavior typically focus on a single protest event, which takes contextual variation out. Instead, we will develop comparative designs that enable us to study the influence of the national and mobilizing context. To that end we have developed a common theoretical framework, standardized measures, and techniques of sampling and data collection.

The central tenet of this study is that a specific national context generates a specific mobilizing context; that the interaction of nation and mobilizing context produces a specific type of demonstration; that a specific type of demonstration brings a specific group of protestors into the streets. We assume that the composition of the group of protestors, their motives and the way they are mobilized result from the interaction of national context, mobilizing context, and type of demonstration.

                                  

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News

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.

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

Publications

Journal Article - 2020

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.

Journal Article - 2020

Reverting trajectories? UKIP’s organisational and discursive change after the Brexit referendum

Ofra Klein & Andrea Pirro
While showing UKIP’s projection into a new phase of its political lifecycle, the findings qualify the notion that the party has radicalised its (online) discourse as a result of (offline) organisational changes.

Special Issue - 2020

The Cultural Side of Populism: Politics, Emotions, Music and Subcultures in Populist Times

Manuela Caiani & Enrico Padoan
This special issue aims to combine an analytical perspective with an empirical focus on current populism(s) in Europe and their cultural aspects.

Journal Article - 2020

On corruption and state capture: The struggle of anti-corruption activism in Hungary

Andrea Pirro & Donatella della Porta
The article draws on social movement theory to understand collective action against corruption in Hungary. While offering a perspective on anti-corruption activism, the article demonstrates its limits against a set of unfavourable factors.

Monograph - 2020

Discursive Turns and Critical Junctures: Debating Citizenship after the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

Donatella della Porta, Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis & Andrea Felicetti
The book offers an in-depth analysis of the unfolding of the public debate in terms of content of claims making, framing, and justifications as well as the quality (deliberativeness) of the discourses by a variety of actors in the public sphere.

Journal Article - 2020

Systemic Unsustainability as a Threat to Democracy

Andrea Felicetti
In a context of resilient unsustainability, protesters have little expectation that institutions might address the ecological crisis and this view is likely to spread. New ways of thinking about this problem and a new research agenda are needed.

Journal Article - 2020

Populism and the (Italian) crisis: The voters and the context

Manuela Caiani & Enrico Padoan
This article, focusing on Italy, aims to broaden our understanding of the recent striking electoral fortunes of (differing types of) populism in the country, by locating them within multiple crises (political, economic, migration) that have shocked Europe in the last two decades.

Journal Article - 2020

Nationalism and populism on the left: The case of Podemos

Jacopo Custodi
This article provides an empirical exploration of the relation between nationalism and populism on the left of the political spectrum.

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.