Workshop honouring the work of Professor Donatella DELLA PORTA

Bucharest, 7 May 2015

Online registration deadline

20 / 04 / 2015

Event organized by
Throughout the last century, people have protested for jobs, for better wages, for governments, against governments, for equality, against war, against cruelty to animals, or for equal rights. In the street or in other settings in which collective aims and collective identity claims could be expressed, people have acted to protect their own interests or those of others and, in doing so, some of them became better citizens and advanced their countries on the road to democracy. For scholars of such phenomena, the last two decades offer plenty of food for thought. Services that were not available ten years ago (such as Facebook and Twitter) have been, since then, incorporated in the tool kit of any movement, becoming an essential part of the mobilization process. In Europe, freedom of movement within the European Union has recently facilitated the contagion between the homeland population and the temporary migrant population, with national protests on the same issue being sometimes organized in multiple cities across the continent. And worldwide, street protests are increasingly visible on a global scale, often changing attitudes and the traditional recruitment paths. At the same time, beyond the sheer amount of work that the abundance of new study material can generate, recent social movements literature faces significant conceptual, theoretical and methodological challenges. Although most now agree that agency, structure, identity and method all matter, there is still no scientific consensus on how these combine or should be understood for a better grasp of social movements. 

A voice that has has pushed the boundaries of research on such topics further than any other scholar in her generation is that of Donatella DELLA PORTA, Professor of Sociology in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy), where she also directs the centre on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos). Her work on social movements, the policing of public order, participatory democracy and political corruption has contributed decisively to the development of contemporary political science and sociology, a fact internationally acknowledged for more than two decades, including through the prestigious Mattei Dogan Award for distinguished achievements in the field of political sociology granted by the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR, 2011).She is currently working on a major ERC project on civil society participation in democratization processes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. Among her very recent publications are: Mobilizing for democracy: Comparing 1989 and 2011 (Oxford University Press, 2014); (ed.) Methodological Practices in Social Movements Research (Oxford University Press, 2014); Participatory Democracy in Southern Europe (ed. with J.Font and Yves Sintomer; Rowman and Littlefield, 2014); Spreading Protest: From the Arab Spring to Occupy (ed. with A.Mattoni; ECPR Press, 2014); Can Democracy be Saved? (Polity Press, 2013); Clandestine Political Violence (Cambridge University Press, 2013); The Blackwell Encyclopedia on Political and Social Movements (with D. Snow, Bert Klandermans, and Doug McAdam); Mobilizing on the Extreme Right (with M. Caiani and C. Wagemann; Oxford University Press, 2012); Meeting Democracy (ed. with D. Rucht; Cambridge University Press, 2012). She is also co-editor of the European Political Science Review (ECPR, Cambridge University Press), as well as founding editorial board member of Oxford Bibliographies On Line: Sociology (Oxford University Press). 

This workshop aims to explore the most recent challenges that the study of social movements faces from different disciplinary and transdisciplinary viewpoints, to identify and examine the new phenomena and cases relevant for social movement research, and to investigate the potential of conceptual, theoretical and methodological innovation in the field, while honouring the work of Donatella DELLA PORTA, who will be present on the occasion. For this purpose, it invites scholars from any discipline or transdisciplinary tradition who have studied these topics to present and discuss the results of their current research projects. Both substantive contributions and methodological papers that present innovations in the study of social movements are welcomed.