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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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DEMOS – Democracy in Europe and the Mobilization of Society

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START YEAR 2004

END YEAR 2008

OVERVIEW

This project focused upon forms of participatory democracy elaborated ‘from below’ and implemented both in the internal organization of social movements and in experiments with deliberative decision-making. In particular, the project analyzed the issue of active democracy emerging in the theories and practices of movements demanding a ‘globalization from below’.
Social movements criticize the fundamentals of conventional practices of politics, and experiment with new models of democracy both in their internal structure and in the ways in which they interact with political institutions. Of particular interest for the project were the conceptions and practices of democracy developed in the global movement/s mobilizing transnationally and demanding social justice and participatory democracy.
The ensuing debate about democracy is particularly relevant both for the development of civil society, and for the legitimization of political institutions at local, national and supranational levels. Our research – focusing on six European countries (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Switzerland), as well as the EU itself – embraced an analysis of documents pertaining to both movements and public institutions, websites, semi-structured interviews with Non-Governmental Organizations and public administrators, surveys of movement activists, participant observation of movement groups and experiences of participatory decision-making.

CONSORTIUM INFORMATION

Project Coordinator:
Prof. Donatella Della Porta (European University Institute, Florence)

  • European University Institute (Donatella Della Porta)
  • University of Kent at Canterbury (Christopher Rootes)
  • Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (Dieter Rucht)
  • Università di Urbino (Mario Pianta)
  • Université de Paris I – Sorbonne (Isabelle Sommier)
  • Instituto de Estudios Sociales de Andalucía (Manuel Jiménez)
  • Université de Genève (Marco Giugni)

SPATIAL COVERAGE OF THE PROJECT

France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the transnational level.

RESEARCH TECNIQUES

Website analysis, content analysis, semi-structured interviews, survey, participant observation.

OBSERVATIONAL UNITS

  • Websites of selected social movement organizations (SMOs) (WP2);
  • Formal documents (i.e. constitutions or mission statements) produced by SMOs (WP3);
  • Representatives of the sampled SMOs (WP4);
  • Participants in the Athens European Social Forum (May 4-7, 2006);
  • “Critical discourse moments” in meetings and activities of SMOs.

RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS:

  1. “General group description/portrait” – organized according to a list of items useful to provide a general description of the group under study
  2. “Session reports” – used to describe the character, content and course of every meeting. The reports draw a more general picture of the group meetings and allow putting a controversy into context
  3. “Controversy protocols” – used to register participation, symmetry/asymmetry, the kind of power used in a controversy and a range of other variables for moments of controversy only
  4. “Codebook” – explains the use of session reports and discourse protocol

DELIVERABLES

AVAILABLE DATASETS

Available datasets can be downloaded clicking on the links above or as a zipped folder at the bottom of the page. Note: Datasetes from WPs 2,3, and 4 are merged in a sole file.

MAIN PUBLICATIONS

D. Della Porta (ed.), 2006, The Global Justice Movement: Cross-national and Transnational Perspectives, Boulder, Paradigm
https://paradigm.presswarehouse.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=143540

D. Della Porta (ed.), 2009, Democracy in Social Movements, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/democracy-in-social-movements-donatella-della-porta/?K=9780230218833

D. Della Porta (ed.), 2009, Another Europe: Conceptions and Practices of Democracy in the European Social Forums, London-New York, Routledge
http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415846080

D. Della Porta and D. Rucht (eds.), 2013, Meeting Democracy. Power and Deliberation in Global Justice Movements, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
http://www.cambridge.org/ar/academic/subjects/sociology/political-sociology/meeting-democracy-power-and-deliberation-global-justice-movements

                                  

FUNDING

A project funded by the EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Directorate General for Research
6th Framework Programme (FP 6) Priority 7
Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge Based Society
(http://www.cordis.lu/citizens; contract no. CIT2-CT2004-506026) and (for the Swiss case) Federal Office for Education and Science, Switzerland (http://www.bbw.admin.ch; contract no. 03.0482).

 

FILES

SPSS Datasets WP2_3_4_5_6

 

News

06/10/2017

Open Democracy Post - "The streets will always be ours" - Catalonia, a referendum from below

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Although some still conceive of the referendum as launched by a pro-independence vanguard, the elite story falls short of explaining the resilient participation of a large part of Catalan civil society. This post at Open Democracy addresses this issue from a different angle.

24/09/2017

New Publication Out - "Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis"

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A timely publication to shed light on the link between social movements that formed as a consequence of the 2008 financial crash and the referendums' dynamic and results.

25/08/2017

Donatella Della Porta con Yanis Varoufakis alla 13esima conferenza ESA

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Wednesday, August 30th (8pm-9.30pm) professor della Porta, who directs the Center on Social Movement Studies(Cosmos), will dialogue with Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister of Finance during the first Tsipras government, about the future of Europe and the social consequences of neoliberal economies

Publications

Monograph - 2018

Social Movements and Civil War : When Protests for Democratization Fail

Donatella della Porta, Teije Hidde Donker , Bogumila Hall , Emin Poljarevic
This book investigates the origins of civil wars which emerge from failed attempts at democratization. The main aim of this volume is to develop a theoretical explanation of the conditions under which and the mechanisms through which social movements' struggles for democracy ends up in civil war.

Monograph - 2017

Social movements and referendums from below. Direct democracy in the neoliberal crisis

Donatella Della Porta, Francis O'Connor, Martin Portos and Anna Subirats Ribas
Out now "Social movements and referendum from below", the first book that bridges the gap between social movement studies and research on direct democracy. It draws on social movement theory to understand the nature of popular mobilisation in referendums using unique case studies such as the referendum on independence in Scotland, the consultations on independence in Catalonia, the Italian referendum on water, the referendum on the Troika proposals in Greece and the referendum on the debt repayment in Iceland.