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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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The Charlie Hebdo Debate: Critical Junctures and Deliberation in the Public Sphere

This part of Mobilizing for Democracy addresses eventful democratization, focusing on how transformative events influence strategic interactions among political actors and shape public debates over contentious issues. The focus is on the Charlie Hebdo shooting that took place in Paris in January 2015, which we consider as a critical juncture that affected the content and nature of public debates on the accommodation of cultural and religious diversity in Western European societies. This part of the research is built upon two main theoretical axes: on the one hand, we refer to literature on the impact of transformative events, investigating how these shape environmental opportunities, allocation of resources, and ultimately the strategic interaction among actors. Critical junctures are turning points that pave the way for changes and may have long-lasting effects on the relations that are established in new assets or regimes. On the other hand, in this research we aim to account for the degree of deliberativeness of various public spheres in the aftermaths of the Charlie Hebdo attacks: our goal is to investigate to which extent, through which mechanisms and under which circumstances, transformative events trigger deliberation or rather polarization in the public spheres.

The research design is based on a small N cross-national comparison (France, Denmark, Germany, Italy and the U.K.), which bridges most similar and most different research design. Within a most similar research design, we focus on the impact of different citizenship regimes and religion-state relations; within a most different research design, we look at how robust causal mechanisms work in -the different cases, focusing on brokerage, agenda setting, embeddedness, transnationalism, adaptation and deliberativeness. Yet, the comparative design is not limited to comparisons across country cases and over time (covering the first anniversary of the shooting in January 2016), but also addresses several public spheres, comparing the unfolding of public debates in mainstream media to subaltern and social movements’ public spheres. In so doing, we aim to analyse the interactions among institutional and civil society actors in different fields and across the multiple issues related with the Charlie Hebdo attacks: migration and integration, secularism and cultural and religious diversity, security and civil rights.

From the methodological point of view, the research is based on a triangulation of quantitative and qualitative analysis. The first part of the research focuses on coverage, and it will use quantitative claims analysis to interpret media discourse in one mainstream quality newspaper in each country case. In addition to this, we will conduct qualitative framing as well as discourse analysis of web platforms, websites, speech acts and selected online material produced by different types of nationally based social movement actors. In this way, we will look at the responses to transformative events in social movements’ spheres focusing on the discursive activity and strategic action of 1) radical left groups, 2) radical right groups, 3) migrant organizations, 4) civil right groups, 5) religious organizations.

Researchers who contributed to this part

  • Pietro Castelli Gattinara: public debates in Italy and claims analysis
  • Konstantinos Eleftheriadis: public debates in France
  • Andrea Felicetti: public debates in the U.K. and deliberative theory
  • Georgia Mavrodi: public debates in Germany
  • Linda Pedersen and Emin Poljarevic: public debates in Denmark

News

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

10/11/2017

Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities

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We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the Summer School on Youth Political Participation in Times of Inequalities, sponsored by the Reinventing Democracy in Europe: Youth Doing Politics in Times of Increasing Inequalities project (EURYKA) and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (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

’Solidarietà sconvenienti’. Reti online di estrema destra contro e per la riforma dell’Europa

Elena Pavan and Manuela Caiani
By focusing on the websites of extreme right organizations in six European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) and by making a combined use of digital research tools and social network analysis, we explore how extreme right organizations make a strategic use of ICTs to connect in the online space and the arguments they move forward to criticize and reform current projects of European integration. Our results suggest that ICTs sustain the construction of inconvenient solidarities in heterogeneous ways, supporting different modes of online conversations amongst extreme right websites which, in turn, affect their capacity to propose shared critiques and proposals to reform the European Union.