ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Social Classes and Social Movements, RC47

RC47 main page
Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 18.


For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program


Borderless Movements from Political Action to People Free Mobility

Session Organizer
Aide ESU, University of Cagliari, Italy,

Session in English

Since the dynamics of globalization have compressed space and time, we are witnessing an enhancement of protest political and cultural movements, characterized by a transnational communication and innovation in self-organization. A mix of free communication with mobile phones, Social Networks and You Tube and the occupation of urban space to debate and share ideas created a hybrid public space of freedom. These events might be interpreted as the first manifestation of a civil sphere where the subjective aims are expressed by claiming personal rights, pursuing the need to choose an individual destiny.

The Tunisian upheaval, “the search for dignity”, as a reaction to autocracy epitomized (rapidly disseminate in the Arab world) the hope for change and a dream for a better life fuels also a new migration dynamic. The search for a better life is looking also for a freedom of movement, even if this means to be in the first stage of undocumented migration, under control of the surveillance power. Crossing the Mediterranean sea, perceived as free-way to the new world, put migrants lives at risk through unsafe journey. Wars and refugee movements in the 20th century played a crucial role in the development of borders, citizenship, new methods of administration, and criteria for determining belonging. Reflecting on the movements of displacement during the past 15 years period in the Mediterranean “open border” reveals how a number of different types of exclusivist/protectionist policies have developed a corresponding determination of categories for inclusion and exclusion.

More recently people, coming from a borderless movement, are at the core of undocumented migration experiencing the displacement, to be dispossess of their land of departure rights and be under the rules of the landing territory; enlightens the understanding of homeland and space that challenges the power of states to determine belonging and sentiment.


Emotions and Protest

Session Organizers
James JASPER, City University of New York, USA,
Nezihe Basak ERGIN, Middle East Technical University, Turkey,
Esin ILERI, Centre d`Analyse et d`Intervention Sociologiques, France,

Session in English/French

This is an open session; I will accept up to four papers on any aspect of the role of emotions in social movements and contentious politics. I will serve as facilitator and discussant. I would ask presenters to be brief in their remarks so that I can lead a discussion along with audience members, asking questions of participants along the way.


Latin American Social Movements in Comparative and Transnational Perspective

Session Organizers
Maria da Gloria GOHN, State University of Campinas, Brazil,
Manuel Antonio GARRETON, Universidad de Chile, Chile,

Session in English/Spanish

This session aims to discuss original research on social movements in contemporary Latin America according to their agendas and claims, forms of expression and organization and the use (and impact) of different technologies.

The proposal is to discuss these agendas, forms and instruments in a comparative way (both within the region and with other regions, mainly with the recent wave of movements and “outraged” in Europe, North Africa, North America and beyond) and in a transnational perspective (looking for networks, dynamics of diffusion and several types of mediations that connect resistances and movements located in different places).


Old or New Cycles of Contention? Anarchist Strains in Contemporary Social Movements

Session Organizer
Grzegorz PIOTROWSKI, Södertörn University, Sweden,

Session in English

The session “Old or new cycles of contention? Anarchist strains in contemporary social movements” is aimed to present the recent anti-capitalist mobilizations from all over the world. The particular focus is on elements of anarchist critique and modes of organization that can be found in these mobilizations. Answers to questions of how the movements and the activists frame their struggles, what kind of protest repertoire they choose and how they organize can help to determine whether we are facing a continuity of anarchist-inspired protests or a new cycle of contention.

By focusing on the radical voices of grassroots groups opposing (neoliberal) capitalism a new perspective on the condition of the broader left can be presented, particularly interesting in the times of economic crisis.


Players and Arenas: Strategic Dynamics of Politics and Protest

Integrative Session: RC21 Regional and Urban Development, RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change
Not open for submission of abstracts.


Popular Unrest and Resistance Movements in Africa

Session Organizer
Marcelle DAWSON, University of Otago, New Zealand,

Session in English

The papers in this session will give an account of the array of resistance efforts on the African continent, notably South Africa. Panelists will seek to engage with, challenge and modify northern-centric perspectives on the study of social movements in an effort to advance a theoretical approach that is more relevant to the global south.


Populism, Nationalism and Social Movement

Session Organizer
Emanuele TOSCANO, University Guglielmo Marconi, Italy,

Session in English

European and Western countries are witnessing the rise of movements, organizations and political parties directly inspired by populist discourses and practices. Starting from the People’s Parties in the North-European countries to get to the extreme rights movements in the Mediterranean countries, the populist discourses are rising around Europe and challenging democracy.

This panel will gather empirical and analytical contributions focusing on the nature, the characteristics and the impact of this emerging populism from a sociological perspective.


RC47 Business Meeting

Session Organizer
Antimo Luigi FARRO, University of Roma La Sapienza, Italy,


RC47 Roundtable I. A New World in the Making: Social Movements across the Globe

Session Organizers
Han SANG-JIN, Seoul National University, Korea,
Dai NOMIYA, Sophia University, Japan,
Ryoko KOSUGI, Tohoku University, Japan,

Session in English


Re-Thinking Urban Social Movements

Session Organizers
Carl CASSEGARD, University of Gothenburg, Sweden,
Hakan THORN, University of Gothenburg, Sweden,

Session in English

Today when more than half of the world’s population live in cities, and the social life of cities has become increasingly globalized, key social conflicts concern urban issues. As cities in both the Global North and South are upgraded to attract tourists, capital and the “creative class”, estate values increase, and so does segregation, as gentrification pushes low income-groups towards urban peripheries. In this process, public spaces are also to an increasing extent being privatized and/or surveilled. For example migrant workers often find themselves at the heart of the contradictions of urban processes, as their labor often provide services demanded by urban elites, while they at the same find it hard to find a space for living in the city, often relegated to the margins of urban space.

It is against this background that we have seen the emergence of movements such as The Right to the City, the Arabic Spring, the Indignados, Occupy as well as struggles of shack dwellers, homeless people and other urban poor around the world. Through their issues, and/or their protest methods, they have all engaged in a struggle over the meaning and material resources of urban space and its’ ‘public-ness’. Surprisingly, however, urban social movements have hardly been paid sufficient attention in the field of social movement theory and studies generally.

This session is therefore a call to re-think the urban question, urban social movements and urban conflicts 30 years after the release of Manuel Castells’ ground-breaking The City and the Grass-Roots. We ask for conceptual papers based on empirical research, addressing social movement theory in the light of recent social conflicts in cities. Considering these recent developments, to what extent does social movement theory need to be re-formulated – and how?


Social Media and Collective Identities in the New Activism

Session Organizer
Paolo GERBAUDO, King`s College London, United Kingdom,

Session in English

This session will look at the use of social media by social movement activists with a particular focus on the new forms of identification that develop in the use of these forms of communication. It invites papers looking at the way in which Facebook pages and groups, and Twitter accounts and feeds become a platform for the construction of the collective identity of new actors, by putting forward common names, common images, common slogans, and common imaginaries. It will question what is the nature of the new forms of identity that are developed on social media, what is their degree of coherence, permanence, and how they reflect the existential challenges of a phase of economic crisis, political transition and technological innovation.


Social Movements, Inequality and Global Environmental Change: Exploring New Actors and Evolving Institutional Frameworks at Multiple Levels of Governance

Session Organizers
Anahita GRISONI, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France,
Sophie NEMOZ, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France,
Deborah DELGADO-PUGLEY, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, France,
David ROJAS, Cornell University, USA,

Session in English/French

One aspect of the domination of and by the environment operates through its definition in the normativity advanced by institutions and public policies. Going against these trends, several actors on the ground propose alternative ways of establishing and understanding relations among society and the biophysical environment. While some of these alternative socio-environmental postures carry the seeds of new models of society, others convey ‘good governance’ concerns that challenge institutional frameworks movements deem defective. These socio-ecological stances, both individual and collective, can be understood through the prism developed by the sociology of social movements. Conversely, individual and collective socio-environmental actions raise new theoretical questions and suggest analytical strategies that may be followed in the examination of the evolving relationship between modern societies and “nature.”

In this panel, we examine how socio-environmental movements challenge environmental institutional frameworks and governance strategies, and how, by so doing, they offer new insights that may be used in the sociological field to revisit theoretical and methodological approaches. Collective mobilizations around environmental matters are unusual in that their engagements are not limited or, apparently, not centred in “social” stakes. Their repertoires of action encompass issues that emerge from the relations that “society” establishes with “nature.” Collective mobilizations underline the links between the social problem of inequality and environmental issues. They manifest through collective mobilizations (against the construction of major development projects such as dams, airports and highways); diffuse networks (such as those against shale gas exploitation or GMO crops) or shared individual practices.

These new social movements – which Alain Touraine argues emerged around anti-nuclear protests – were all similarly born through reflective engagements that bring to the fore subject positions and make it possible to posit new social models. Similarly, their claims are driven by a dual dynamic – which is contradictory only in appearance: on the one hand, they resist the imposition of meaning and of a model of society in which actors do not recognize themselves (this is sometimes interpreted as a reactionary and backward-looking posture). On the other hand, they display innovative capacities – both social and technical – and modify day-to-day practices. Meanwhile, at the global level, received wisdom about environmental change facilitated making the case for the creation and funding of national-level executive agencies with responsibility for environmental management.

This trend, established during the colonial period (Agrawal 2005, Leach and Mearns 1996), develops to the present day. How do social movements face evolving environmental institutions at global and regional scales? How do they try to gain influence in policies that shape the access to environmental and natural resources? How do governments relate to, and assimilate, local critiques social movement advance against external structures that aim to control the access and use of natural resources? What relationships are currently privileged between officials working in governments, international donor agencies, and non-governmental organizations [(NGOs)] and local actors? Which governance structures are accepted and fostered in the international arena?

We would like to explore the interfaces between society and governmental structures related to environmental issues and the place social movements take in this stake. At the intersection of environmental sociology and social movements – and drawing on the situated practices of social movements – this panel intends to opens new paths for exploring the socio-environmental problem of inequality.


Theorizing Social Movements and Expressions of Contestation: Towards a Global Dialogue

Session Organizers
Breno BRINGEL, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Shujiro YAZAWA, Seijo University, Japan,

Session in English

For a long time social movement theories were practically synonymous of North American and European social movement theories. Although there was never a completely uncritical reception of these theories in Latin America, Africa and Asia, in recent decades the theorization of social practices and experiences of contestation of these regions has moved towards a more original, consistent and less Eurocentric perspective. At the same time, frames of interpretation and theoretical frameworks begin to move toward an increasingly global dialogue. Somehow, this is not unique to the debate on social movements and accompanies a broader movement in the social sciences.

This session aims to present theoretical proposals to interpret collective action, social and cultural contentious expressions and social movements, with emphasis on the Global South. However, unlike some contemporary interpretations, the goal is not discard “Northern” theories and experiences, but weaving a critical and global dialogue based on the consideration of the specificities of the local joints and societies; the diversity of political cultures and national/regional traditions of thoughts; the historical and spatial constructions of social conflict, and so on. Critical, reflexive and contextual theories are especially welcome.


Violent versus Nonviolent Strategies by Movements and States

Session Organizers
Jeff GOODWIN, New York University, United States,
Fabian VIRCHOW, University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf, Germany,

Session in English

This panel will consider how the interactions between movements and states, and with other actors, shape each side`s choice of violent or nonviolent strategies.


Work, Subjectivity and Social Movements

Session Organizers
Daniele DI NUNZIO, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Italy,
Antonio FAMIGLIETTI, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy,

Session in English

Work has no longer the central dimension in the society as in the industrial era. Nevertheless, it maintains an important role in the affirmation of subjectivity and in the paths of modernization. Contemporary age offers new opportunities for the individuals, especially considering the increasing importance given to well-being, knowledge and creativity in the working life. On the other side, there are many challenges to avoid the alienation and exploitation of humans and environmental life. At global level, logic of market seems to impose itself on the dignity and rights of workers, leading to a crisis of democracy and representation that accompanies the economic one.

This panel will gather empirical and theoretical contributions focusing on the meaning of work at individual and collective level, encouraging a multidisciplinary approach to the debate. Main attention will be given on the issues of workers` dignity and on the experiences of the workers movements in a comparative perspective.


Joint Sessions

Click on the session title to read its description and the scheduled day/time.

Alternative Lifestyles and Political Activism Towards a New Environmentalism: Climate Summits, “Buen Vivir”, Local Food and Voluntary Simplifiers

Joint session of RC24 Environment and Society and RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements [host committee]


Cultural Fields and Movement Trajectories: Comparing the Effect of Different Cultures upon Movements in the Political Process

Joint session of RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements [host committee] and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change


Feminist Movement and (Women’s) Human Rights

Joint session of RC32 Women in Society [host committee] and RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements


Organizing Change – Changing Organization: Social Movements and the Innovation of Organizational Forms and Cultures. Part I

Joint session of RC17 Sociology of Organizations and RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements [host committee]


Organizing Change – Changing Organization: Social Movements and the Innovation of Organizational Forms and Cultures. Part II

Joint session of RC17 Sociology of Organizations [host committee] and RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements


Rethinking Democracies: Social Movements and Democratic Processes

Joint session of RC18 Political Sociology , RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements [host committee] and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change



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June 2014