The Centre on Social Movement Studies


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)

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Feminism as a method

Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies and Methods in Social Sciences

International Conference
Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

Scuola Normale Superiore

Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

14-15 November 2024

Over the past decade, feminist epistemology and the feminist perspective on methodologies has been the focus of renewed interest, also due to the new wave of mobilizations at the global level against gender based violence and inequality. In a famous speech, Katie Sarachild (1979) argued that the practice of self consciousness rising, widespread in civil rights movements and later in second-wave feminist movements, was the research method developed by women to analyze society from their own embodied experience. For her, feminism was thus based on the intertwining of epistemology and methodology. In 1987 Sandra Harding asked, “Is there a feminist method?”. Since then, the pioneering works of feminist researchers such as Evelyn Fox Keller (1983, 1985), Donna Haraway (1988), Sandra Harding (1987, 1992), Adrienne Rich (1984), Patricia Hill Collins (1986), to mention a few, feminist epistemologies have been questioning the universality and neutrality of scientific and social research by providing a critical and situated approach, based on self-reflexivity, positionality and the critics to strong objectivity. The rise and development of critical methodological approaches in the social sciences—sociology, political science, philosophy, science, and many other fields—has been greatly impacted by these approaches.

Feminist epistemologies and methodologies represent a critical approach to knowledge production, emphasizing the examination of gendered perspectives and power dynamics in the construction of knowledge. These frameworks challenge traditional, often male-centric, ways of understanding reality and seek to uncover hidden biases and inequalities in various disciplines. By foregrounding women’s experiences and voices, feminist epistemologies aim to create a more inclusive and equitable knowledge base. Methodologically, these approaches often prioritize participatory research (Fuster Morell 2009, Schurr & Segebart 2012, Sallah 2014), intersectional analyses (Crenshaw 1991; Hancock 2016), and collaborative interventions that acknowledge the diverse ways in which gender intersects with other social categories (Cook and Fonow 1986, Reinharz 1992, Malo 2001, Lykke 2010). Feminist epistemologies and methodologies strive to reshape the intellectual landscape by fostering a more comprehensive and just understanding of the world.

The international conference “Feminism as a method” aims at exploring the contribution of feminist theories and approaches, from an intersectional perspective, to epistemology, methodology and methods in social sciences. It is intended to bring together scholars from different disciplines and areas of research: social movement studies, sociology, anthropology, history, political science, geography, political ecology, cultural studies, science and technology, philosophy and art. The aim of the conference is to collect and gather existing knowledge, skills and expertises on epistemology, methodology and methods from a feminist and gendered perspective.

Special attention will be given to the following themes:


  • Feminist and queer epistemology, methodology and method
  • Participatory / engaged / militant research
  • Gendering ethnography
  • Trans Studies and Methodology
  • Self-reflexivity and positionality
  • Grounded theory method and feminist inquiry
  • Decolonizing methodology and research
  • Ethics of feminist and queer research
  • Dealing with and doing research on emotions
  • Contradictions and limitations of feminist and queer research
  • Intersectional approaches to feminist and queer research
  • Doing research with/in feminist movements
  • Gender-based violence and risks in fieldwork research
  • Feminist approaches to history and historiography
  • Feminist perspectives on researching political ecology
  • Care practices in social research
  • Feminist approaches to quantitative research in the social sciences


We invite scholars to present both theoretical and empirical papers on such themes.


Please send an abstract (500 words) and a short bio (100 words) to the email address anastasia.barone@sns.it and giada.bonu@sns.it by May 31st, 2024. 

Acceptance will be notified by July 31st, 2024.

Selected contributors will be asked to send the paper by October 1st, 2024.

The conference will take place in person at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore, located at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence.





Collins, P. H. (1986). Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought. Social Problems, 33(6), S14–S32. https://doi.org/10.2307/800672

Cook, J. A., & Fonow, M. M. (1986). Knowledge and women’s interests: Issues of epistemology and methodology in feminist sociological research. Sociological Inquiry, 56(1): 2-29.

Crenshaw, K. (1991) Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color, in Stanford law review, 43(6), pp. 1241-1299.

Fox Keller, E. (1983) A feeling for the organism. The life and work of Barbara McClintock. W.H. Freeman and Company.

Fox Keller, E. (1985) Reflections on Gender and Science. Yale University Press.

Fuster Morell, M. (2009) Action Research: Mapping the Nexus of Research and Political Action, Interface, 1 (1), 21-45.

Haraway, D. (1988) Situated Knowledge: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14 (3), 575:599.

Harding, S. G. (Ed.). (1987). Feminism and methodology: Social science issues. Indiana University Press.

Harding, S. (1992). Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What Is “Strong Objectivity?”. The Centennial Review, 36(3), 437-470.

Lykke, N. (2010). Feminist Studies: A Guide to Intersectional Theory, Methodology and Writing. New York: Routledge.

Malo, M. (2001). Nociones comunes: Experiencias y ensayos entre investigación y militancia. Madrid: Traficantes de sueños.

Reinharz S. (1992). Feminist Methods in Social Research. Oxford: Oxford  University Press.

Rich, A. (1984). Notes toward a Politics of Location. In: Rich, A. (1984) Blood, Bread and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979-1985. W. W. Norton & Company, New York.

Sallah, M. (2014). Participatory action research with ‘minority communities’ and the complexities of emancipatory tensions: intersectionality and cultural affinity. Research in Comparative and International Education, 9 (4), 402-411.

Sarachild, K. (1979). Consciousness raising: a radical weapon. In: Redstockings (1979) Feminist Revolution. Random House.

Schurr, C., & Segebart, D. (2012). Engaging with feminist postcolonial concerns through participatory action research and intersectionality.  (3), pp. 147-154. Helvetica, 67 Geographica.

Wuest, J. (1995). Feminist grounded theory: An exploration of the congruency and tensions between two traditions in knowledge discovery. Qualitative health research, 5(1), 125-137.




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.