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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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A Global Movement for Real Democracy? The Resonance of Anti-Austerity Protest from Spain and Greece to Occupy Wall Street

Leonidas Oikonomakis and Jerome Roos

Type: Chapter in edited book
Year: 2016

How do instances of popular protest spread across borders? This question, which has eluded social scientists for decades, appears to have become more salient than ever in the wake of the seemingly unprecedented transnational cycle of struggles that began in 2010-’11. In this chapter, we look at the diffusion of anti-austerity protest between Spain, Greece and the United States, focusing in particular on the claims and organizational forms behind these mobilizations. We note that, despite clear local varieties between them, the 15-M movement in Spain, the movement of the squares in Greece, and the Occupy movement in the United States share a number of basic elements in common, most notably their critique of representation, their insistence on autonomy from political parties and the state, and their commitment to a prefigurative politics based on horizontality, direct democracy and self-organization.

So how did this critique of representation and these alternative organizational models spread so rapidly across such widely divergent and geographically distant countries? In approaching questions like these, social movement scholars have historically drawn on the concept of diffusion. In this chapter, we problematize some of the core assumptions behind classical diffusion theory and argue that its conceptual framework may be too linear to account for the local and transnational dimensions behind these protests. Instead of posing a clear-cut distinction between a ‘transmitter’ movement and an ‘adopter’ movement, we identify multiple sources of inspiration that simultaneously fed into each particular mobilization. We argue that – much more than simply mimicking the claims and organizational models of movements elsewhere – each of the aforementioned mobilizations drew upon extensive local movement experience and pre-existing activist networks to develop its own autonomous and horizontal forms of self-organization. Rather than mindlessly copying models from elsewhere, activists drew inspiration from other movement to activate latent potentialities for mobilization back home. We refer to this process as a pattern of resonance.

Marcos Ancelovici, Pascale Dufour, and Héloïse Nez (eds.), Street Politics in the Age of Austerity: From the Indignados to Occupy, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016, pp. 227-249

http://en.aup.nl/books/9789089647634-street-politics-in-the-age-of-austerity.html

News

09/11/2018

Donatella della Porta on the Growing Criminalization of Protest

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The criminalization of protest is growing: there are many signals of this both in ‘hybrid’ regimes and in democratic countries. In this interview, Donatella della Porta discusses the dynamics and consequences of such trend.

14/09/2018

Andrea Pirro appointed as new editor of East European Politics

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Andrea Pirro has been recently appointed as new editor of the journal East European Politics published by Taylor and Francis.

31/08/2018

Volkswagen foundation Grant 2018 for Manuela Caiani

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Manuela Caiani has been awarded the Volkswagen Grant 2018 for the research project Popular Music as a Medium for the Mainstreaming of Populist Ideologies in Europe, that will be directed by Mario Dunkel (University Carl von Ossietzky of Oldenburg, Germany).

Publications

Journal Article - 2018

Movement parties of the far right: The organization and strategies of nativist collective actors

Andrea Pirro, Pietro Castelli Gattinara
Despite theoretical commonalities, very little empirical research has focused on far-right “movement parties” as collective actors operating both in the protest and the electoral arenas. The article redresses this inconsistency by exploring the organizational and strategic configuration of two far-right collective actors—the Hungarian Jobbik and the Italian CasaPound.

Monograph - 2018

Political Strategies and Social Movements in Latin America. The Zapatistas and Bolivian Cocaleros

Leonidas Oikonomakis
This book investigates how social movements form their political strategies in their quest for social change and -when they shift from one strategy to another- why and how that happens.