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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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The integrative power of online collective action networks beyond protest. Exploring social media use in the process of institutionalization

Elena Pavan

In this article, we aim at expanding the event-based and protest-centered perspective that is typically adopted to study the nexus between social media and movements. To this aim, we propose a network-based approach to explore the changing role that these tools play during the dynamic unfolding of movement processes and, more particularly, over the course of their institutionalization.

Type: Journal Article
Year: 2016

In this article, we aim at expanding the event-based and protest-centered perspective that is typically adopted to study the nexus between social media and movements. To this aim, we propose a network-based approach to explore the changing role that these tools play during the dynamic unfolding of movement processes and, more particularly, over the course of their institutionalization. In the first part, we read the added value of social media as a function of the ‘integrative power’ of the networks they foster – a unique and evolving form of sociotechnical power that springs from the virtuous encounter between social media networking potential and social resources. In the second part, we investigate this form of power by focusing directly on online networks’ structure as well as on the type of communication and participation environments they host. We apply our proposed approach to the longitudinal exploration of the Twitter networks deployed in the period 2012–2014 during three annual editions of the transnational feminist campaign ‘Take Back The Tech!’ (TBTT). Results from our case study suggest that, over time, TBTT supporters do in fact make a differentiated use of social media affordances – progressively switching their communicative strategies to better sustain the campaign’s efforts inside and outside institutional venues. Thus, the exploration of the TBTT case provides evidence of the usefulness of the proposed approach to reflect on the different modes in which social media can be exploited in different mobilization stages and political terrains.

http://www.tandfonline.com.ezp.biblio.unitn.it/doi/full/10.1080/14742837.2016.1268956

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.