The Centre on Social Movement Studies


CFP Athens conference “Capitalism, Democracy, Contention: A Decade of Crisis” 13-15 May 2020

Aspiring to shed light on the Greek experience in the era of crisis in a comparative, inter-disciplinary perspective, the Laboratory on Contentious Politics (Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University, Athens), the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) and the Hellenic Political Science Association are organizing an international conference to be held at Panteion University, on 13, 14 and 15 May 2020.

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13, 14 & 15 May 2020


Capitalism, Democracy, Contention: A Decade of Crisis

Comparing four major economic crises of the last 100 years ‒the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, the Eurozone crisis, and Greece’s ‘long collapse’‒ a recent IMF Article IV Report (IMF Country Report No. 19/340) made the following conspicuous disclosure: whereas the economies in all the other cases had rebounded to pre-crisis levels within three-six years, a full decade after the signing the first Memorandum of Understanding, despite continual internal devaluation and the persistent implementation of austerity policies, Greece continues to languish.

Aspiring to shed light on the Greek experience in the era of crisis in a comparative, inter-disciplinary perspective, the Laboratory on Contentious Politics (Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University, Athens), the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) and the Hellenic Political Science Association are organizing an international conference to be held at Panteion University, on 13, 14 and 15 May 2020.

As Greece has been the harbinger of things to come all over Europe and beyond, its detailed examination provides grounds for assessing extant conceptualizations and theories at the intersection of institutional and contentious politics, also bearing significant theoretical import for contemporary political sociology as a whole. The conference’s cognitive goals are threefold, involving: (a) examination of the precise character of the crisis and its social repercussions; (b) its influence on the functioning of the political system (democratic hollowing/post-democracy); and (c) the social-movement and political responses it spearheaded.


A: The ‘Great Recession’: an unknown familiar, a familiar unknown

Considering that ‘crisis’ has been encompassing nearly all aspects of public life at least for a decade, comparative political sociology is faced with the challenge of tracking down and meaningfully synthesizing pertinent debates on its nature and social consequences. Aspiring to illuminate these dimensions, the conference invites papers from a wide spectrum of fields in the social sciences (political economy, social policy, political and social anthropology), exploring the crisis’ causal mechanisms, the narratives, frames and political discourses that were emitted about it by a variety of actors (the Media, supra-national institutions, political parties etc.), as well as its impact in the broad processes of social organization and reproduction (labor market, public health, education, housing). We are particularly keen on papers that will either be comparing Greece with other countries or will be employing it as a case-study to evaluate (revisit or, if necessary, recast) dominant concepts and research proclivities.


Β: Democratic Hollowing -Post-Democracy

In a political system already characterized by the ‘hollowing of democracy’, the influence of austerity politics has been truly portentous. The conference seeks to examine the relevant developments with a twofold focus: (a) which were the consequences the various bailout agreements had on the functioning of the political system (e.g., declining role of the legislature vis-à-vis the executive, ruling by decree, mounting intervention by supranational institutions with minimal democratic accountability)? and (b) in what ways has austerity politics intensified the crisis of representation? If the first aspect concerns developments taking place inside the core of the state, the second centers primarily on party functioning: how was the crisis reflected in the party system, what is the significance of the collapse of the embedded two partyism of 1974-2009 and what theoretical conclusions can be drawn regrading the perennial problem of party bureaucratization (and cartelization)? Here too, a major challenge is the comparative-theoretical utilization of the papers’ empirical results.


C: Social-Movement and Political Responses

But Greece was also marked by the outbreak of an unprecedented protest wave ‒dozens of militant general strikes, the occupation of public buildings, the two-month long Aganaktismenoi mobilizations, a variety of solidarity initiatives, and several contentious local protests‒ all in the face of towering police brutality, not only in capital Athens but all over the country. The conference seeks papers exploring three main areas: (a) developments in the repertoires of collective action: which were the major changes occurring in protest forms, which were the conditions fueling them, and what kinds of results did they obtain? (b) subjective understandings of collective action: how was the experience of participating in contentious events interpreted by the claimants themselves, and which factors influenced their preparedness to engage in them? (c) what can be said about the tempo or the rhythm of collective action and in what ways has the transformation of protest into a political program ‒the political mediation of social-movement reality‒ by political parties and organizations influenced developments?


The conference invites abstracts (up to 350 words) in any one of the areas above (or combinations thereof) until Friday 20 March 2020. Submit abstracts to to the Laboratory on Contentious Policy website submission form https://lcp.panteion.gr/en/submit-proposal/  or alternatively to lcp@panteion.gr.



Le basi istituzionali di un panico morale

Attraverso una lunga rassegna di casi concreti, Donatella Della Porta, direttrice di Cosmos, descrive il processo per cui la lotta istituzionale all'antisemitismo in Germania, inizialmente promossa dalla società civile progressista, si è trasformata nella costruzione di un apparato statale e di una struttura di potere ufficiale come strumento di razzializzazione e repressione.


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

Donatella Della Porta, Cosmos Lab director, has researched on “Regressive movements in time of emergency” using the case of protests against anti contagion measures. In this case as in many others (from the conservative “anti gender”  European farmers) protesters pictured themselves as an abused minority of powerless victims fighting against some hidden and organized power. This frame seems to be a version of those being used by populist (mainly far-right) parties against Europe. 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.


Social movements, Coronavirus and the right to healthcare

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


Far right movements and the European elections

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


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

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.


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

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


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.