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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

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.