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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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START YEAR 0

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

08/06/2017

Call for Papers - Cosmos Conference "The Contentious Politics of Higher Education. Student Movements in Late Neoliberalism"

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The Centre on Social Movement Studies, directed by Professor Donatella Della Porta, calls for papers addressing the recent global wave of student protests for a two-days conference to bel held in Florence, at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS), on 15-16 November 2017.

19/05/2017

Video available for the International Conference – Beyond Borders: Refugees and Struggles in Europe Mobilization, Solidarity and Political Challenges in the Long Summer of Migration

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Watch the video of the International Conference – Beyond Borders, which was held at Palazzo Strozzi on May 12, 2017

19/05/2017

Marco Deseriis wins Best Paper Award at the Cedem17 Conference for e-Democracy & Open Government

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Dr. Marco Deseriis, Marie Curie Fellow and Research Fellow at Cosmos, has won the Best Paper Award at the Cedem17 Conference for e-Democracy & Open Government (Danube University, Krems Au Donau, Austria)

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

The Electoral Success of the Radical Left: Explaining the Least Likely Case of the Communist Party in Graz

Manès Weisskircher
Recently, scholars have shown a growing interest in radical left parties (RLPs). In terms of electoral success, the rise of the KPÖ Graz, the Communist Party in Austria’s second biggest city, represents perhaps the most counterintuitive case in Western Europe. This analysis shows how the party has managed to ‘own’ the issue of housing and to exploit local political opportunities in order to be electorally successful. The findings point to the importance of agency and the subnational level for RLPs, and highlight more general questions in the study of this party family.

Journal Article - 2017

Non-deliberative politics in deliberative democracy: distinct approaches for different actors

Andrea Felicetti
In this paper Andrea Felicetti first illustrates the main ideas of the systemic turn, explores the distinction between ‘deliberative’ and ‘non-deliberative’ politics and investigates the main arguments justifying non-deliberative politics. Then, he builds upon these arguments to shed new light on the relationship between deliberative and non-deliberative politics. He identifies three distinctive actors in deliberative systems (political institutions, empowered agents, and public space actors). Finally, he argues that deliberative democrats should adopt three different approaches (intensive, moderate, and free) in order to assess whether the use of non-deliberative politics by each of these actors is legitimate.