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

Research Committee on
Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change, RC48

RC48 main page

Program Coordinators

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 22.


Planned sessions and dates/time subject to further changes

in alphabetical order:


Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Activists and Activisms Amidst Occupy-Type Protests: Practices, Possibilities and Dilemmas

Session Organizer
Ignacia PERUGORRIA, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina,

Session in English/Spanish

Little more than two years have passed since the Tunisian uprisings, the spark that ignited a series of occupy-type protests that spread like wildfire across three different regions of the world: the Arab countries, Southern Europe and the United States. Much has been written about these mobilizations in terms of their struggle against socio-economic inequality, their demands for democratization/“real” democracy, their participatory, horizontal and deliberative organization, the savvy and intensive use of social media/the internet, and the occupation and transformation of the public space into a public sphere. Less has been said, however, about the impact of these traits on the praxis of activism, and on the self-perception and public portrayal of activists themselves. In this session we would like to reflect on the issue of activism amidst the current cycle of protest.

We invite papers addressing the following main topics, among others:
  1. The interaction between an embodied/territorialized political praxis associated to the occupation of public space, and disembodied/de-territorialized online activism;
  2. The challenges derived from the political socialization of (usually young) “political neophites,” and the “re-socialization” of “senior” activists trained in hierarchical organizations;
  3. The display of humor, irony and parody, and the possible inception of a novel type of “ludic activism,” characterized by ingenuity, pleasure, creativity, and play;
  4. Activists’ previous socio-cultural profiles, militant trajectories, and multiple activisms, and their conflictual embeddedness and articulation in mobilizations that reject politico-ideological “flags and banners” on account of their divisiveness;
  5. The influence of cultural collectives, hacktivists, bloggers, and community organizers in the implementation of tactics such as sousveillance, media hoaxing, subvertising, flash mobs, street art, and hacktivism, to name but a few;
  6. The tension between the exclusive category of “activist/militant” and the encompassing identities that were crafted for the social movement community (e.g. “the persons,” “the 99%,” “common people”) in an attempt to garner broad public support.
Papers that are both theoretically driven and empirically grounded will be favored. A focus on the current cycle of protest and comparative papers addressing continuities and discontinuities with previous waves of mobilization are equally welcome.


Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Civil Society and Collective Actions. Part I

Session Organizer
Debal SINGHAROY, Indira Gandhi National Open University, India,

Session in English

The civil society in the contemporary world has been posited in a paradoxical situation especially in the context of globalization and the emergence of the neo-liberal state on the one hand, and the resurgence of the culture of grass roots resistance on the other. The emerging scenario has caused phenomenal change in the functioning of civil societies and its relationship with the state and the people. Even as the state is emerging to be hegemonic, and the market is becoming all encompassing civil society still creates the space for creative engagement of people to protect their dignity, autonomy and identity. Through this creative space it not only develops contestations against the conventional hegemony of the state and the market but also creates new body of knowledge, identity, and ontology of collective being in a globalizing world. Significantly a vast body of this knowledge is formed based on every day experiences at the grass roots.

As against this backdrop this session would integrate varieties grass root civil society engagements, their emerging patterns of collective mobilization, social net working and alternatives initiatives especially of the marginalized people.


Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:30 PM - 5:20 PM

Civil Society and Collective Actions. Part II

Session Organizer
Balan PP, Kerala Institute of Local Administration, India,

Session in English/Spanish


Friday, July 18, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Democracy Now. Part II

Session Organizer
Sharon BARNARTT, Gallaudet University, USA,
Francesca POLLETTA, University of California, USA,

Session in English


Friday, July 18, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Democracy Now: Are New Understandings of Radical Democracy Transforming its Practice?

Session Organizer
Francesca POLLETTA, University of California, USA,

Session in English

Fifteen years ago the conventional wisdom among scholars and many activists was that radically democratic decision making was a quixotic exercise in idealism, undertaken by committed (and often aging) idealists unconcerned with political effectiveness or economic efficiency. Today, bottom-up decision making seems all the rage. Crowdsourcing and open source, flat management in business, horizontalism in protest politics, collaborative governance in policy studies–these are the buzzwords now and they are all about the virtues of nonhierarchical and participatory decision making. What accounts for this new enthusiasm for radical democracy? Is it warranted? Are champions of the form understanding key terms like equality, consensus, and decision differently than did radical democrats in the 1960s and 70s? And is there any reason to believe that today’s radical democrats are better equipped than their forebears to avoid the old dangers of endless meetings and rule by friendship cliques?

This panel invites papers on how the people who practice radical democracy today – in movements, but also in nonprofits and even for-profits – understand what radical democracy means. Where do those understandings come from? And what are their consequences for groups` ability to act effectively and fairly?


Thursday, July 17, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Dilemmas of Unfinished Revolutions

Session Organizer
Piotr SZTOMPKA, Jagiellonian University at Krakow, Poland,

Session in English

The last decades of the twentieth century as well as the first decade of the twenty-first century have witnessed an unprecedented number of successful pro-democratic social movements from below resulting in fundamental regime transformations. Some of them, embracing all levels of social reality – political, economic, cultural, mental, everyday life – are rightly referred to as revolutions. One may mention several areas where such epochal events took place: Eastern-Central Europe, the Ukraine, Georgia, the Balkans, Baltic States, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

In spite of the great differences in the revolutionary goals, strategies and processes, there is one striking similarity. Most revolutions seem incomplete, unfinished, suffering from various unexpected challenges. To name but a few: The congress of ISA seems the perfect place to bring together sociologists from various countries that have experienced revolutions, to compare post-revolutionary dilemmas, new forms of inequality and exclusion, and to share reflections on possible remedies and directions of further developments.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Feminists Movements and Feminists Mobilizations in a Complex World

Session Organizer
María MARTINEZ, Universidad del País Vasco, Spain,

Session in English

Feminists mobilizations and feminists movements take nowadays an enormous number of forms: from the typical SMO, to a library, a bar or a squatting building. Feminists are also present in political parties, other social movements (LGTB, anti-globalization, environment…), ONGs, and they have played an important role in the 2011 uprisings all over the world. Likewise, feminists actions do not focus merely on the State, but politizes with their actions everyday life. This diversity of feminists mobilization troubles, partly, the study of these collective action with the tools of social movements theories. But at the same time, encourage us to reshape some of our approaches for a better understanding of social movements in a complex world.

This session invites contributions that go beyond the acknowledgment of the diversity of feminists mobilizations and feminist movements – already credited by most feminists movements scholars. By presenting specific feminists mobilizations or mobilization of feminists in other collective actions, the propositions should challenge social movement approaches and/or make an analysis of those feminists mobilizations through an interdisciplinary and/or inter-approach to the analysis. Some of the issues and questions we would like to address are: what can a feminist and/or queer approach do to the analysis of feminists mobilizations nowadays?, how can the intersectionality of discriminations proposal contribute to a better understanding of feminists movements and mobilizations in a complex world?, how the studies on the anti-globalization or the 2011 uprising can inform or be informed by feminists movements analysis in the last years?, etc.


Thursday, July 17, 2014: 03:30 PM - 05:20 PM

Media and Social Movements in the Age of Globalization

Session Organizers
Takeshi WADA, University of Tokyo, Japan,
Edwin AMENTA, University of California, USA,
Patrick HELLER, Brown University, USA,

Session in English

The media has always been an important research topic in the literature of contentious politics and social movements. We have learned that favorable media coverage of social movements will likely embolden movement participants, make them less vulnerable to state repression, and thus facilitate diffusion of their ideas and repertoires. However, recent contentious events – such as the protest mobilization in the Arab Spring and a series of social forums around the world – signal the changing nature of the media and public sphere.

The rise of social media – Facebook, twitter, and so on – offers an unprecedented opportunity for those who live under authoritarian conditions both to have access to and disseminate the information without relying on traditional mainstream media, such as television, radio, and newspapers. What will be the theoretical implications of such a change? Does the emergence of new interactive media shift the balance of power in favor of movement actors? Has the traditional media become less relevant to social movements’ success today? Or, do the social media empower movement actors more in the authoritarian countries than those in the democratic ones in which the traditional media maintain credibility?
This session invites papers that examine empirically the relationship between social movements and the media, both traditional and new.


Thursday, July 17, 2014: 05:30 PM - 07:20 PM

Movements and Civil Society Actors Against Corruption and Organized Crime

Session Organizers
Francesca FORNO, University of Bergamo, Italy,
Alice MATTONI, European University Institute, Italy,
P. P. BALAN, Kerala Institute of Local Administration, India,

Session in English

Political corruption and organized crime are two crucial issues in contemporary societies. In the field of social and political sciences, literature flourished in the last decades about the mechanisms supporting the development and thriving of political corruption and organized crime. A growing body of studies is also focusing on the anti-corruption and anti-organized crime policies at the level of national and local public administration as well as on the incorporation of these issues in the agendas of political parties, not only during electoral campaigns.

The role of civil society and social movement actors in fighting against corruption and organized crime, on the contrary, remains a heavily understudied topic. This, although citizens` participation in both institutional and non-institutional settings has an important role in fighting corruption as well as organized crime.

This session aims at attracting empirical contribution on grassroots mobilizations against corruption and organized crime in the Global South and the Global North. In particular, we are interested in papers that:
  1. explore the organizational patterns, forms of protest, mobilization of resources, communication/mediation practices, and/or contentious discourses that civil society and social movement actors develop when mobilize against corruption and organized crime;
  2. investigate the role of institutional political actors, especially at the national and local level, in creating spaces for citizens` participations as well as participatory mechanisms of accountability, like for instance the Social Audit policies in India
  3. explain the outcomes of civil society and social movement actors mobilizations against corruption and organized crime, with particular attention to the outcomes at the level of policy making at the local and national level;
  4. discuss the methodological challenges that the study of such mobilizations, that span from high-risk and high-visibility protests to high-risk and low-visibility actions, imply for scholars approaching them.
We welcome papers employing qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods approaches. Comparative studies, contrasting different mobilizations, different countries, and/or different periods of time are also welcome.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Occupy-Type Protests in Comparative Perspective. Part I

Session Organizers
Ruth MILKMAN, City University of New York, USA,
Michael SHALEV, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel,

Session in English

Occupy-type protests are an unexpected type of social movement, sharing some characteristics of both new social movements and the more recent anti-globalization movement, but with a distinct focus on domestic socioeconomic issues. Do these protests imply not only an unanticipated historical development, but also a paradigm crisis at the theoretical level? At the empirical level, research so far on contemporary anti-austerity and Occupy movements has focused mainly on Europe and North America, with partially parallel developments in Latin America receiving separate attention, and without questioning why such protests did not occur in other developed regions (Eastern Europe, Australasia, Japan).

This points to the need to move from national case studies to cross-national comparisons, with questions like: what is similar and what is different about the Occupy-type protests and those that took place earlier in the Arab world? Is a single analytical model appropriate or not? Why did anti-inequality protests take root in some affluent societies but not others? Is there value in differentiating between different sub-types of Occupy protests or is there a compelling family resemblance among all of them? We envisage that proposals for this session will be explicitly comparative in their orientation, including case studies informed by a comparative perspective as well as paired case studies and systematic multi-country comparisons.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Occupy-Type Protests in Comparative Perspective. Part II

Session Organizers
Ruth MILKMAN, City University of New York, USA,
Michael SHALEV, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel,

Session in English


Friday, July 18, 2014: 12:30 PM - 2:20 PM

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.


Friday, July 18, 2014: 03:30 PM - 05:20 PM

Pre-Disaster Alternative Politics in Post-Disaster Protests

Session Organizer
Patricia STEINHOFF, University of Hawaii, USA,

Session in English

Following Japan’s “triple disaster” on March 11, 2011, Japanese society has witnessed some of the largest public protests to emerge in decades. This panel locates the rise in collective protest within the historical trajectory of existing civil society organizations in Japan. It examines the continuation, change, and transformation of these social movements since 3.11 as they have responded to the ramifications of the disaster, and relates them to the broad body of literature on social movements and collective behavior. Organizations within Japanese civil society have a long history of grappling with various social issues that arose from the fracturing of the postwar paradigm premised on economic growth and political stability.

The panel will approach the rise in protest since the 3.11 crisis through the responses of organizations that have been dealing with issues such as nonstandard employment, U.S. military base issues in Okinawa, dispossessed youths who hop from job to job, constitutional revision, and other social issues. The panel will explore the following questions.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Protest, Movement and New Identities in Contemporary India

Session Organizers
Dipti Ranjan SAHU, University of Lucknow, India,
Rajesh MISRA, University of Lucknow, India,

Session in English

Contemporary India has been experiencing many protests and social movements concerned with the issues of casteism, land rights, environment, women’s rights, life style choices ethnicity and human rights. These movements have mobilized the people for developing a socio-political force and challenged the state and society. Further expressions of such movements have broadened the meaning of freedom. A much-needed exercise is an assessment of trends in social movements, past and present and their impact on people across the country. Indian movement scholars have been debating over the concept of social movement and people’s protest and the later being treated as a politically a more effective and potent concept than the social movement. Moreover, these have been termed as new social movements that encapsulate the class movements within its fold and covers all kinds of people’s rights – the movements of Dalits, Tribal people, Peasants and women in Indian situation.

The anti-caste movements i.e. movements of lower castes and untouchable castes (Dalits) have influenced the mainstream politics in India and created a socio-political space for themselves. Environmental movements in India have questioned the development process and industrial growth. Human right groups asserted people’s identity by exposing the state authority. Similarly, women activists raised the issues of structural and cultural oppression. The primary objectives of the session is a critical assessment of people’s protests and movements in India, historical and contemporary and setting an agenda for future. Further it will present a spectrum of macro and micro social movements in India.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 07:30 PM - 08:50 PM

RC48 Business Meeting


Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 05:30 PM - 07:20 PM

Rethinking Democracies: Social Movements and Democratic Processes. Part II

Session Organizer
Paola REBUGHINI, University of Milan, Italy,
Benjamín TEJERINA, Universidad del País Vasco, Spain,
Piero IGNAZI, University of Bologna, Italy,

Session in English


Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 03:30 PM - 05:20 PM

Symbols and Social Movements

Session Organizer
Thomas OLESEN, Aarhus University, Denmark,

Session in English

This session focuses on what is an often overlooked aspect of social movement action: the use and production of symbols. In some cases social movements create new symbols by mobilizing around unjust events. In other cases social movements draw on already existing symbols in order to generate cultural resonance. A variety of objects can attain symbolic status: Photographs, events, people, art.

The session is open to all papers dealing explicitly with the relationship between social movements and symbols. It particularly welcomes papers that address: the methodological and theoretical challenges of studying symbols in social movements; the visual aspects of symbols; the transnational aspects of symbols; the relationship between violence and symbols; the political effects of symbols.


Friday, July 18, 2014: 05:30 PM - 07:20 PM

The Transnationality of Transnational Movements

Session Organizer
Helena FLAM, University of Leipzig, Germany,

Session in English

This session calls for papers conceptualizing transnational movements and proposing novel ways of approaching them. While some researchers argue that the established conceptual and methodological apparatus is sufficient to analyze transnational movements, others hold that transnational movements have a complex organizational structure, choose unusual cooperation partners and develop novel cooperation and action patterns. Alone these features call for developing new approaches. Such movements are often composed of `movements from below` linking bottom-up and across borders to other movements; cooperating with the representatives of the state(s), international organizations, and even selected enterprises. They sometimes rely on a few dominant, but at other times many different languages. Their ongoing work is accomplished by core activists, but also movement enterpreneurs, translators, brokers, institutional activists, etc.

Of interest are approaches capable of grasping this diversity, problems it causes and solutions it brings forth, while addressing the question under what conditions (by what sorts of power: strategic, moral, economic, symbolic or network-based) such movements manage to accomplish the goals they set for themselves.


Monday, July 14, 2014: 12:30 PM - 2:20 PM

Wither the 2011 Mobilizations: Progressive, Regressive or Irrelevant

Integrative Session: RC07 Futures Research, RC36 Alienation Theory and Research and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change
Not open for submission of abstracts.


Saturday, July 19, 2014: 08:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Youth and Social Movements. Part II

Session Organizer
Airi-Alina ALLASTE, Tallinn University, Estonia,
Benjamín TEJERINA, Universidad del País Vasco, Spain,

Session in English


Joint Sessions

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

Civil Society and Collective Actions. Part II

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change [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


Intellectual South-South and North-South Dialogues from Critical Thinking, Theory and Collective Praxis

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change [host committee]


Labor and Environmental Movements

Joint session of RC44 Labor Movements and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change [host committee]


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


Social Movements, Publics, and the Contentious Politics of the Future. Part I

Joint session of RC07 Futures Research [host committee] and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change


Youth and Social Movements. Part I

Joint session of RC34 Sociology of Youth and RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change [host committee]



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March 2014