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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Sebastian Haunss, Paolo Gerbaudo – “Capitalist transformations and protest”

Time and Place: Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore – Palazzo Strozzi, Florence – Room Simone del Pollaiolo, 4 pm

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Sebastian Haunss, Bremen University

Based on an analysis of legitimation discourses Sebastian Haunss will discuss why the capitalist order survived the Great Recession in many countries largely unscathed, despite the severity of the crisis and the impact it had on individual citizens.

Paolo Gerbaudo, King’s College London

The social movements that have emerged in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, starting with the movement of the squares of 2011-2016 (Occupy, Indignados etc.) display a radical repositioning in the system of values and ideas, when compared with the movements of the 1990s and 2000s. The severe economic shock and widespread hardship caused by the “subprime” financial crash and the ensuing recession seems to have brought back questions of economic inequality at the very heart of social movement concerns, thus pushing demands for civil rights and the protection of individuals and minorities vis-à-vis the nation-state – those that had occupied the scene in previous decades – down the social movement agenda. “Identity politics” or “identitarianism”, as it is sometimes criticised, what was deemed to be the dominant logic of post-68 movements thus seems to be leaving way to mobilisations that are overtly anti-identitarian, in that they reject sectional identities (as those based on gender, sexuality, and race) and appeal to extremely vague and inclusive “non-identities” or “empty signifiers”. Witness for example, the flourishing of references to the notions of the people and the citizenry popping up everywhere in the discourse of social movements and allied post-crash parties (Podemos, Momentum etc.). Thereby, the pursuit of economic inequality thus goes hand in hand with an universalist re-assertion of social and political equality transcending and superseding all those sectional divisions that appear to have fragmented society in the neoliberal era, often acting as an obstacle to solidarity and therefore a resource in the hands of the ruling elites. Furthermore, this opposition against economic inequality is mobilised in a rather different manner than it has been customary in social movements in previous decads. It is not raised simply on the level of economic conflict, as it would be in the context of a traditional syndicalist perspective. Nor is it raised in an ethical manner as it would be the case in “corporate responsibility” consumerist campaigns. Rather this question is mobilised in the framework of a political conflict, where it is understood that economic inequality has its roots in a disparity of political power, where oligarchies have accrued enormous influence at the expense of ordinary citizens. In this lens, social movements, starting from the movement of the squares, have laid claim to citizenship understood as a condition of political dignity and a state of political empowerment, and not just a bundle of rights and duties. Furthermore, they have laid claim to the notion of sovereignty, to the idea that democratic states need to reassert their power over a territory, if they are to act as an effective countervailing force to the power of capital and finance. These trends signal in their combination a significant redirection of social movement efforts in the 21st century, away from the pursuit of an anti-statist politics of autonomy and towards the construction of a politics of citizenship and sovereignty, that aims at the construction of people’s power, and at the recuperation of state institutions.

 

 

 

 

 

News

14/06/2024

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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.

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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.