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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Robert Fishman – “Mechanisms of social movement success: conversation, displacement and disruption”

On February 16th, at 5 p.m., Robert Fishman (Universidad Carlos III, Ma­drid), will discuss his work entitled: Mechanisms of social movement success: conversation, displacement and disruption

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A great deal of social movement scholarship tends to as­sume – and in some cases explicitly argues – that disrup­tion is the primary mechanism through which protest move­ments win major concessions from the holders of power. Nonetheless, some studies and much empirical evidence provide a strong basis to argue that other paths to social movement success also exist. The importance of discourse and framing has also been highlighted in a number of stud­ies but we argue that the full contribution of talk itself to movement success is best captured through the concept of “conversation” and an examination of the preconditions for its viability. The successful displacement of power-holders by protest movements, although a less common pathway to success than disruption and conversation, also deserves conceptual and empirical attention. In this paper we make this set of distinctions conceptually explicit, differentiating analytically between these three mechanisms of movement success and delineating the conditions required for each mechanism to prove viable and ‘useful’. We rely on exten­sive examples drawn from movements and protest events in the United States, Spain and Portugal, using this empirical material, as well as the existing theoretical literature, as our basis for constructing a conceptual argument on the ideal typical distinction between these three mechanisms and the conditions that allow them to operate. We also take up the questions of whether, and when, movement actors can successfully combine these mechanisms or – alternatively – find themselves pressed to pursue one or another of these pathways to success in a relatively ‘pure’ form.

ROBERT M. FISHMAN, CONEX-Marie Curie Professor of Po­litical Science and Sociology at the Universidad Carlos III (Ma­drid), previously taught at the University of Notre Dame and at Harvard University. He works on interconnections between politics and culture, inequality and political inclusion, social movements and democracy – adopting a historical approach to the analysis of these themes. His articles have appeared in the American Sociological Review, World Politics, Annual Review of Political Science, Politics and Society, the Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Comparative Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development and other scholarly journals as well as the New York Times and other newspapers. Fishman’s books include Democracy’s Voices (2004), winner in 2005 of Honorable Mention for Best Book from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Political Sociology. He is currently writing a book onDemocratic Practice: Origins of the Iberian Divide in Political Inclusion

News

14/06/2024

The Far-right and conspiraciy theories from Covid to the European elections

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Donatella Della Porta has researched on “Regressive movements in time of emergency” using the case of protests against anti contagion measures. Protesters pictured themselves as an abused minority fighting against some hidden and organized power. We asked Della Porta to explain why and how conspiracy theories and this kind of posturing is keen to fall for the political offer of rightwing parties.

10/06/2024

Social movements, Coronavirus and the right to healthcare

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The 2020 pandemic has brought renewed focus on public healthcare and many mobilizations both on healthcare systems and vaccine patents. What are the peculiarities of right to healthcare movements? A talk with Cosmos Lab member Stella Christou

03/06/2024

Far right movements and the European elections

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Intersections and differences among far right politica Europan parties and movments, transatlantic exchanges, the role of mobilizations at the grassroots level. An interview with political scientist Andrea Pirro

17/05/2024

An open letter on freedom of expression and protest on Palestine by the European social movement studies community

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As social movement scholars we express strong concerns about the growing trend to restrict the right of expression, critique, and protest in several countries in Europe. Signed by research centres, journals and standing groups.

21/03/2024

CFP: Feminism as a method - Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies and Methods in Social Sciences

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International Conference 14-15 November 2024 Anastasia Barone, Giada Bonu Rosenkranz and Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore)

16/05/2023

CFP: Analyzing protest in the digital age. Challenges and opportunities in combining text and video sources

Organizers Donatella della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore Swen Hutter, Freie Universität Berlin & WZB Berlin Social Science Center Place and date WZB Berlin Social Science Center, December 7-8, 2023

Publications

Journal Article - 2023

Resisting right-wing populism in power: a comparative analysis of the Facebook activities of social movements in Italy and the UK

Niccolò Pennucci
This paper aims to present a comparative study of the civil society reaction to right-wing populism in power through social media, by looking at cases in Italy and the United Kingdom.

Journal Article - 2023

Emotions in Action: the Role of Emotions in Refugee Solidarity Activism

Chiara Milan
This article investigates the different types of emotions that result from participation in refugee solidarity activism, investigating how they change over time and to what extent they explain why individuals remain involved in action in spite of unfavorable circumstances.

Journal Article - 2023

‘Love is over, this is going to be Turkey!’: cathartic resonance between the June 2013 protests in Turkey and Brazil

Batuhan Eren
This study addresses the question of why and how a protest can inspire individuals in distant countries. Taking the June 2013 protests in Turkey and Brazil as cases, it investigates the reasons why the Turkish protests were framed as one of the inspirational benchmarks by some Brazilian protesters.

Journal Article - 2023

Mutual aid and solidarity politics in times of emergency: direct social action and temporality in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lorenzo Zamponi
From the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures introduced created a series of social problems and needs that were partially addressed in Italy as well as in other countries by grassroots mutual aid initiatives. While many of these initiatives were strongly rooted in the Italian social movement and civil society landscape and the choice to engage in mutual aid activities was the result of long years of reflection and planning, the article shows how strongly the temporality of emergency affected the nature of these initiatives, their development and their outcomes, in particular with regard to the extraordinary number of people who volunteered and their relationship with politicisation processes.

Monograph - 2023

Populism and (Pop) Music

Manuela Caiani, Enrico Padoan
The book provides a detailed account of the links between production of popular culture to the rise of populism and contributes to studies on populism and popular culture in Italy, using a comparative approach and a cultural sociology perspective

Monograph - 2022

Labour conflicts in the digital age

Donatella della Porta, Riccardo Emilio Chesta, Lorenzo Cini
From Deliveroo to Amazon, digital platforms have drastically transformed the way we work. But how are these transformations being received and challenged by workers? This book provides a radical interpretation of the changing nature of worker movements in the digital age, developing an invaluable approach that combines social movement studies and industrial relations. Using case studies taken from Europe and North America, it offers a comparative perspective on the mobilizing trajectories of different platform workers and their distinct organizational forms and action repertoires.

Monograph - 2022

Resisting the Backlash: Street Protest in Italy

Donatella della Porta, Niccolò Bertuzzi, Daniela Chironi, Chiara Milan, Martín Portos & Lorenzo Zamponi
Drawing interview material, together with extensive data from the authors’ original social movement database, this book examines the development of social movements in resistance to perceived political "regression" and a growing right-wing backlash.

Journal Article - 2021

Learning from Democratic Practices: New Perspectives in Institutional Design

Andrea Felicetti
Drawing from literature on democratic practices in social movements and democratic innovations, the article illustrates three ways to advance institutional design in the wake of the systemic turn.

Monograph - 2021

Migrant Protest. Interactive Dynamics in Precarious Mobilizations

Elias Steinhilper
This book explores the interactions and spaces shaping the emergence, trajectory, and fragmentation of migrant protest in unfavorable contexts of marginalization.

Journal Article - 2021

Populism between voting and non-electoral participation

Andrea Pirro & Martín Portos
The article focuses on a neglected aspect of populist mobilisation, i.e. non-electoral participation (NEP), and elaborates on the extent to which populist party voters engage politically outside the polling station. While challenging common understandings of populism as inherently distrustful and apathetic, and protest as an exclusive practice of the left, the study critically places NEP at the heart of populism in general, and populist right politics in particular.