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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Gramsci’s Political Thought and the Contemporary Crisis of Politics

Loris Caruso

In the context of the worsening economic crisis analogies tend to be drawn between the economic and political crisis in Europe of the 1920s and 1930s and the current situation. Now as then, it is argued, there is the risk that a systemic economic crisis and the crisis of representative politics will in turn lead to authoritarian outcomes. Rarer, however, is the idea that the current political and economic crisis may lead to a ‘‘progressive’’ outcome. This article examines both options under the light of the thinking of one of the most important interpreters of political crisis and change in the 1920s and 1930s: Antonio Gramsci.

Type: Journal Article
Year: 2016

In the context of the worsening economic crisis analogies tend to be drawn between the economic and political crisis in Europe of the 1920s and 1930s and the current situation. Now as then, it is argued, there is the risk that a systemic economic crisis and the crisis of representative politics will in turn lead to authoritarian outcomes. Rarer, however, is the idea that the current political and economic crisis may lead to a ‘‘progressive’’ outcome.

This article examines both options under the light of the thinking of one of the most important interpreters of political crisis and change in the 1920s and 1930s: Antonio Gramsci. One of the central arguments in Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks is the crisis of parliamentarism and democratic politics. Gramsci did not limit his analysis to the crisis however. His theoretical undertaking also consisted in the attempt to imagine the conditions for moving beyond the democratic crisis in a progressive manner. What emerges is an existing continuity between the Gramscian categories of Cesarism-Bonapartism, economic-corporative State, hegemonic crisis and contemporary politics, particularly with reference to phenomena such as populism, technocracy and neoliberalism; the utility of the conceptual category of Passive Revolution to comprehend the current forms of exerting power and building social consent; the potential fruitfulness of Gramsci’s schemata on counter-hegemonies, to understand the changes in the party-organization and the possibilities of building counter-hegemonies.

Loris Caruso, 2016, "Gramsci’s Political Thought and the Contemporary Crisis of Politics". Thesis Eleven. Critical theory and historical sociology, Vol. 136 (1)

http://the.sagepub.com/content/136/1.toc

News

19/12/2017

10 Fully funded 4-years PhD positions in Political Science and Sociology, for the AA. 2018/2019, 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.

13/12/2017

Call for Paper: Conference “1968-2018, fifty years after: Where is the social movements field going?”

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Taking the 1968 anniversary as a stimulating moment for reflection, this conference seeks to provide space for looking at the implications of that period on social movement research as well as addressing a number of key questions in current social movement research.

04/12/2017

Martin Portos Garcia wins the ISA's Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists

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The International Sociological Association has just announced the list of the winners of the Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists engaged in social research, amongst which Martin Portos Garcia - post-doc fellow at COSMOS

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

Repertoires of knowledge practices: Social movements in times of crisis

Donatella della Porta and Elena Pavan
Starting from the assumption that knowledge becomes all the more important for movements in times of crisis, as old structures are challenged and new ones envisaged and proved feasible, the purpose of this paper is to suggest ways to expand the toolkit of social movement studies in order to empirically address knowledge practices as a meaningful part of contemporary progressive activism.

Journal Article - 2017

Keeping dissent alive under the Great Recession: no-radicalisation and protest in Spain after the eventful 15M/indignados campaign

Martín Portos
Traditional theories of collective action would predict that, after a triggering event, the trajectory of a wave of protest is determined by the institutionalisation–radicalisation tandem. Based on the Spanish cycle of anti-austerity and against the political status quo protest in the shadow of the Great Recession, this article contends with this approach, as a clear trend towards radicalisation is never observed as the cycle unfolds. An alternative interpretative framework is developed to understand protest trajectories when collaborative inter-organisational strategies prevail.