AboutThe ASA Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements (CBSM) was created in 1980 to foster the study of emergent and extra-institutional social forms and behavior, particularly crowds and social movements. Our interests run from disasters and riots to rumors and panics; from popular culture to strikes, revivals and revolutions. With over 800 members, CBSM is one of the ASA's largest and most active sections.
ContactPlease email feedback and updates to the CBSM webmaster, Alex DiBranco.
Category Archives: Critical Mass
By Sergio Tamayo, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Azcapotzalco
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, Mexico has become a laboratory of social struggle. The trajectory has followed a galloping pace of multiple struggles, rebellions and protests that look as if they cross paths with similar movements elsewhere in the world. From the student movements in Chile against privatization, the Indignados in Spain, Occupy Wall Street and the resistance of teachers in the United States, the Arab Spring in the Middle East, young people for public space in Turkey, the struggles of workers in South Korea, and the spread of anarchist communes; all seem to cross nations, cultures and similar experiences. With a highly schematic story I would like to show the way the space of Mexican movements has developed, and introduce some Mexican authors who have witnessed these struggles.
Protest in Mexico during the first decade of the current century has been a battle for citizenship and a dispute over the future of the nation (Tamayo, 2010). It has been a cycle in response to the systematic application of unpopular neoliberal policies that have been embedded in society, through critical structural reforms, especially in labor, education and energy (Modonessi, Oliver, Munguía, López de la Vega, 2011; Zermeño, 2009).
Mexican social movements can be classified by the way they relate to state policies. The National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) was aimed at both electoral goals and an anti-neoliberal court, but it is not radically opposed to capitalism. MORENA, which imagines development through a nationalist and popular strategy, has passed from being a social movement to a political movement-party (Combes, 2015).
In contrast, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the Other Campaign promotes an explicitly anti-capitalist project. During this period, the EZLN has lost social support, engaged with the ever-present threat of military aggression, and consolidated a regional project in indigenous communities (Lutz y Chávez, 2014).
There is also the movement of the working class. There are heteronomous unions such as the UNT (telephone workers), SME (electrician workers), OPT (political workers party) and CNTE (a democratic faction of the teacher’s union). The trade union movement is nevertheless fragmented by unceasing governmental repression strategies. Unions deeply disagree about regional, organizational, mobilization and political strategies. Within union cultures, an older class-consciousness has been replaced by business-oriented and individualistic values that limit the prospects of social change (Bizberg, 2010).
In addition there are regional movements like the APPO in Oaxaca, which allies the teachers union with indigenous and popular communities to influence local governance (Bolos y Estrada, 2013). Also, protests against mining in Wirikuta and the Parota dam have sparked an ethno-environmentalism, which has combined community and regional visions to build integrating schemes of social citizenship, as well as a practical and theoretical sense of autonomy, against penetration by transnational companies. They have connected the defense of territory with religious values, based on traditional customs and practices, which sometimes contradict a universalist vision of citizenship (Landázuri y López Levi, 2011; y Lutz y Chávez, 2014)
A new cycle of protest opened with the federal elections of 2012, as youth mobilized across the country. The movement #YoSoy132 (#Iamthe132) was for democracy and against the imposition of large media networks. It still resonates with social activists in several regions (González Villarreal, 2013). The Ayotzinapa movement emerged in 2014 in the state of Guerrero, one of the poorest and most violent states in the country, after the incursion of drug trafficking violence. Despite ups and downs, this movement continues to demand the live presentation of 43 disappeared students from the Rural Normal School, affecting the legitimacy of judicial institutions, the military and political representation, under the claim: “The crime was by the State.” In association with this social conflict, the movement of community policing appears in several regions of the country that replace the deficient state’s role in public security, combating violence against women and drug trafficking (Albertani y Aguilar Mora, 2015).
The resistance has irritated the system, but the social response is not enough to crack it. To achieve an institutional impact, movements call for unity in action, a difficult goal to achieve. The EZLN has shrunk in its liberated territories. MORENA, now becoming an institutionalized party, is unable to sustain protest. Unions defend stability rather than the interests of members. And communities that built compact ethnic identities have reinforced them with speeches of exclusion, losing their appeal to a wider audience.
Elections, on the other hand, have become an opportunity for political contestation. Some groups have been able to use the electoral process to articulate and promote movements that may have a decisive impact on politics (Aguilar, 2009; Cadena-Roa y López Leyva, 2013). These groups view the elections as appropriate targets of protest and disqualification. They lead toward more and more active abstentionism, collective actions, boycotts of elections, and de-legitimization of the political elite.
As can be seen, the Mexican protest has reemerged, mainly due to the deepening of structural reforms, which have disrupted the lives of millions of human beings. From the countryside to the city; from frightened groups of middle class and workers; from perished community identities, women and radical students and young people; the looming common struggle is the defense of public space. This project is one of citizenship. It seeks to balance the defense of universal human rights with cultural diversity. A theoretical perspective can explain this paradox by attempting to reach a synthesis between macro structures of opportunity and cultural processes of life experiences.
Aguilar, Martín (2009). Movimientos sociales y democracia en México 1982 y 1998. Una perspectiva regional. México: Editorial Porrúa y Universidad Veracruzana
Albertani, C. and Aguilar Mora, M. (2015). La Noche de Iguala y el despertar de México. México: Juan Pablos.
Bizberg, Ilán (2010). “La democracia vacía. Sociedad civil, movimientos sociales y democracia”. En Bizberg Ilán y Francisco Zapata (2010). Los grandes problemas de México. VI. Movimientos Sociales. México: El COLMEX, capítulo 1.
Bolos Jacob Silvia y Estrada Saavedra Marco (eds.) (2013). Recuperando la palabra. La Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca. México: Universidad Iberoamericana.
Cadena-Roa, Jorge y López Leyva, Miguel Armando (eds.) (2013). El PRD: orígenes, itinerario, retos. México: Editorial Ficticia y UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades
Combes, Hélène (2015). “Repertories de la movilización, estrategias políticas y reclutamiento militante,” in Hélène Combes, Sergio Tamayo, and Michael Voegtli (cords.). Pensar y Mirar la Protesta. México: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.
González Villarreal, Roberto (2013). El Acontecimiento #YoSoy132. Crónicas de la multitud. México: Editorial Terracota.
Landázuri Benítez Gisela y López Levi Liliana (eds.) (2011). Actores sociales y dinámicas locales. México: UAM Xochimilco.
Lutz Bruno y Chávez Becker Carlos (eds.) (2014). Acción Colectiva y Organizaciones Rurales en México. México: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, UNAM-FCPyS, y Ediciones del Lirio.
Modonesi, Massimo; Oliver Lucio; Munguía Galeana Fernando: López de la Vega Mariana (2011). “México 2000-2009: Una década de resistencia popular,” in Massimo Modonesi and Julián Rebón (eds.). Una década en movimiento. Luchas populares en América Latina en el amanecer del siglo XXI. Buenos Aires: Promoteo libros, CLACSO, UBA Sociales Publicaciones.
Tamayo, Sergio (2010). Crítica de la Ciudadanía. México: Editorial Siglo XXI y Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.
Zermeño, Sergio (2009). “Movimiento social y cambio en México y en América Latina,” in Francis Mestries, Geoffrey Pleyer, and Sergio Zermeño (eds.). Los Movimientos sociales: de lo local a lo global. México: Anthropos y UAM Azcapotzalco.
Benjamin Lamb-Books (PhD, University of Colorado)
Emotion itself and unpleasant displays of anger in particular are once again becoming causes of alarm in current U.S. politics with the 2016 presidential campaign. Civic questions about the propriety of anger in public and over ‘less-friendly’ forms of civil-society discourse have spread across media channels. The undeniable influence of angry sentiments in American politics has itself become object to those second-order feelings—feelings toward feelings—so well analyzed by sociologist of emotion Arlie Hochschild (who, e.g., in The Second Shift discusses how overburdened women develop coping strategies of affective suppression to deal with gender-bending strong emotions including anger at unfairness).
Prima facie, nothing seems to be more uncivil and unproductive than public outpourings of anger. Sociologists have observed that the acute expression of anger, usually toward subordinates, is a privilege reserved to social elites of higher status in some respect (see Collett and Lizardo’s 2010 article, “Occupational status and the experience of anger” in Social Forces). Anger among subordinates, in contrast, is mostly blocked and contained by more chronic frustrations and diffuse negative moods (with terrible health effects). Yet this is only half of the story. For charismatic leaders in the spotlight—whether politicians, activists, or celebrities—displaying and performing the strong affects of anger is always risky, like playing with fire. There are sociological reasons why Donald Trump can get away with anger-provoking rhetoric and thrive off it, but Hillary Clinton cannot. (Recent headlines indeed blast Clinton whenever she comes even within a mile away from ‘losing her cool.’)
In fact, almost nothing is more difficult than successfully pulling off an eloquent performance of anger in public without it backfiring upon one’s character. Even our wannabe-American-fascist Trump is unable to, he being instead high in anger but low in eloquence. Sensible, wise, and effective expressions of anger continue to be a civil-society rarity. Protestors try to capture this sensibility but more often than not their anger is dismissed as a mark against them. They are deemed too subjective, too emotional, and not rational enough about the more objective origins of their discontents. Anytime anger is expressed too bluntly, the character of the speaker gets impugned for being biased and intemperate. In rhetorical theory the importance of managing such character concerns in speech is known as ‘ethos.’ The need to protect one’s ethos from emotional contamination of the bad kind, given the binaries of civil-society discourse, always confronts the rhetor of the moment with special limitations based upon the social perceptions of others.
As James Jasper might put it, the rhetoric of anger in public poses a “strategic dilemma,” both for people protesting some injustice and for politicians seeking election via the arousal of populist sentiments. Indisputable here is just how eminently emotional all of politics in general is, just as are the protest struggles that sociologists analyze as ‘social movements’ or ‘contentious politics’ (on emotion in politics, see the special issue of the Journal of Political Power, edited by J. Heaney). Verbalized explicitly or not, anger is a “potency emotion” that can operate as a key motivational resource in conflicts over power (as social psychologists like Scott Schieman have shown). Anger is often veiled under more respectable status claims (of ethos) but still easily recognizable as what makes one’s political opponent so damn intractable.
In democracy, the anger of ‘the people’ is deeply threatening to the status quo. A coherent collective articulation of deep anger is unsettling to political incumbents no matter what their party affiliation. Irrespective of practical policy, such an articulation of anger will also inevitably frighten the upper classes who always prefer law and order to chaotic social changes. Meanwhile, the modern intelligentsia (me included) thinks ‘fascism’ when things get collectively too heated or dissects away the anger problem as the last desperate gasp of a dying status group. We are not necessarily wrong about this. All commenting parties though are usually content to ignore the social structure of the strategic dilemma, that is, the cultural and rhetorical dynamics that necessarily accompany anger when it rears its ugly head in public.
Even sociologists could benefit more from a deeper rhetorical and social-psychological understanding of the strategic dilemma of anger as a public political emotion. Without doing so, we are liable, like lay pundits, to dismiss the emotional energy therein without being able to explain the dual operation of collective emotions—as intermittently disruptive and/or “cementing of domination,” so Helena Flam has written. When are angry rhetorics productive and progressive in struggles against injustice, versus, when are they merely loud last gasps of a disintegrating status group? In principle, angry rhetorics can serve both purposes effectively as is plain from current political news. For the activists and politicians then, what makes the strategic dilemma of anger worth choosing? When are the potential costs to character too great and distracting? Beyond the political dichotomy between progressive versus conservative, what distinguishes the zealous prophetic rhetoric of MLK Jr. from the destructive angry rhetoric of DJT Sr.?
In my forthcoming book, Angry Abolitionists and the Rhetoric of Slavery: Moral Emotions in Social Movements (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), I bring together for social analysis exemplars of the so-called ‘eloquence of abuse’ from the antislavery movement in the United States, the radical rhetoric of prophet-like abolitionists from Sojourner Truth to Wendell Phillips to Frederick Douglass. The rhetorical tradition categorizes collective anger as one of the most important species of ‘pathos,’ which Cicero defined as the production of strong or ‘violent’ emotion. What’s sociologically interesting about anger as a type of pathos is the careful ethos work inextricably involved. For the production of pathos to be persuasive and beneficial to one’s purposes, the speaker must manage a precarious balance between emotion and rationality in the right proportions. This is clearly a distinctively affective form of impression management in public. If a speaker comes off as too angry, if he or she ‘loses his or her cool,’ then the credibility and trustworthiness of that speaker also takes a hit.
There appears then to be an Aristotelian golden mean for the expression of anger in political rhetoric, a level of moderation that is necessary in order to avoid triggering distrust and cynicism toward the character of the speaker (ethos). To produce persuasive pathos, one’s ethos cannot be in question. At least this is the case if the aim is the identification and solidarity of the audience (as classical rhetorical theory would have it), less so if the intent is defiance or disruption (as more common in prophetic radical rhetorics). The strategic dilemma of anger in contentious politics is that stimulating pathos may backfire upon the ethos of the cause and hurt the progress of the movement. This is a tricky balance to negotiate. It is a near impossible bind for low-status participants of a protest struggle who instead are compelled to devote nearly all their time on performances of ethos and logos rather than pathos. If they slip-up and irrepressibly express too much strong emotion, as is more inevitable for the most oppressed, it often triggers status backlash by the audience—a different, less desired in-group/out-group kind of pathos—that is, if there even is a watching audience in the first place.
Benjamin Lamb-Books is the author of Angry Abolitionists and the Rhetoric of Slavery: Moral Emotions in Social Movements (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).
By Anna Zhelnina, CUNY Graduate Center
Social movement studies in Russia gained momentum after the 2011-2012 protest wave, as new research groups emerged to conduct empirical studies of the spontaneous mass protests against electoral fraud (known as the “Movement for Fair Elections”). Publications appeared as early as January 2012 (one month after the first protests), when sociologists and anthropologists made their first and rather descriptive attempts to make sense of the unexpected mass mobilization. The “Rallies Research Institute” (NII Mitingov) in Moscow and the PS-Lab (Public Sociology Laboratory) in St. Petersburg and other Russian cities collected data on the protesters’ demographics and demands, struggling to find adequate methods to capture the “new” reality of mass protests.
The deeper analysis of these events followed later. One of the best contributions so far is the book The Politics of the Apolitical (Politika apolitichnykh) published by the PS-Lab collective in 2014. The book focuses on the “paradoxicality” of mobilization in the political and ideological context of depoliticization of the Russian society, and looks for the conditions of political subjectivization. Several chapters are dedicated to later mobilizations (such as volunteering in areas of natural disaster, local level activism) that allowed the “political subjects” formed during the anti-electoral protests to stay active.
The upsurge of mobilization research in 2012-2013 can leave a false impression of the absence of social movements and social movements research before 2011, and both the media and some of the researchers referred to the “Movement for the Fair Elections” as the first mobilization since 1993. However, social movements existed during the “cursed nineties” and “stable” 2000s, and researchers have examined mobilization around urban problems (housing conditions, heritage protection), labor and social security issues, and the women’s and environmental movement. Tilly’s political process theory, Melucci’s collective identity theory, and framing theory are popular frameworks for research. One significant contribution is the 2010 book From average people to activists (Carine Clement, Olga Miryasova and Andrei Demidov), an encyclopedia of social activism in Russia in 2000s.
Generally, movement-state relations are the center of scholars’ attention. Elena Zdravomyslova in her work on the organization “Soldiers’ mothers” analyzes the identity politics and the tactics of collective action legitimation under hostile state conditions. Natalia Danilova (in research on the disabled war veterans’ movement) and Milyausha Zakirova (on urban protest) look at movements’ search for mobilizing frames that allow them not to appear too “oppositional.” Scholars such as Elena Belokurova and Ivan Klimov pay attention to the organizational dimension of movements. Boris Gladarev in his work on the heritage protection movement is interested in a broader issue of the formation of the public, mostly based on Laurent Thévenot’s “moral sociology”.
Current interest is growing in conservative and right wing mobilization, although the future of those studies is questionable, since the state has become hostile not only to the activism, but also to research about it.
Question: did the emergence of the fair election movement change how scholars thought about movements, at the theoretical level? I think, it promoted the topic and it became more popular after the movement, and maybe just more people started “theorizing” about its origins. But it still is discussed either from the point of view of political philosophy or political science in the narrow sense, social movements studies in the strict sense did not become extremely popular.
By Debal K. SinghaRoy, Indira Gandhi National Open University
Societies in India have long been the breeding grounds for varieties of social movements as collective agency to protest against socio-economic dominations and exploitation and also for the articulation of new identities. Many of these movements have retained their historical legacies despite reorientations over the time.
Historically India has witnessed numerous religious reform movements and revolts of the peasants and tribal people against the rulers. During British rule starting from the early 19th century, tribal revolts surfaced in the eastern, central and northeastern parts of the country. India has also seen the phenomenal participation of the tribes and peasants in the Independence movements and also the proliferation of autonomous peasant and workers movements since the first quarter of the twentieth century. There have also been trade union movements, caste and ethnic movements like that of the Rajbansi movements in the northern parts of Bengal and the Anti Brahmin movements in the southern part of the country.
After Independence many of the previous movements continued, and India experienced an outburst of new peasant movements like the Tebhaga movements1946-47, Telangana Movements 1948-52, and thereafter the radical Naxalite movements in 1970s. It has also seen the proliferation of workers movements in the growing urban areas of the country in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Since the mid 1970s India has experienced women’s movements, environmental movements like Chipko (hugging the tree), movements against big dams (Narmada Bachaao Andolon), regional autonomy (separate statehood with Indian Union) movements like the Telangana, Vidharva, Kamptapuri ,Gorkhaland, Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Bodoland movements, rich farmers’ movements in the agriculturally developed states, movements for the assertions of caste identity like the Dalit Panther Party , Bahujan Samaj Party, Pro-Mandal Commission Movements (movements in favor of reservations for the socially and economically backward classes in government jobs and in education), the radical Maoist movements since mid 1980s in the agriculturally backwards parts of the country. In recent years, movements against big hydro and thermal projects and dams, movements against nuclear and defense projects (e.g. Anti-Missiles Base movement in Baliapal, Orissa, Anti Nuclear Power Project in Haripur, West Bengal, movement against Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in Maharashtra), Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption, Movement for right to Information, Movements of agriculturalists’ against land acquisition, civil liberty and human rights, gay rights, children’s rights, and numerous localized social movements for employment, livelihood security of the poor, safety and dignify of women, tribes, low castes, religious minority groups have surfaced in many parts of the country.
Despite India’s new social movements, the old social movements persist, although in new forms, as the old issues are yet to be resolved. However in the wake of economic globalization, penetration of ICTs and communication networks, increased migration and social mobility, a high concentration of youth in the population, most of these social movements are now nationally and internationally connected, attract supporters across the geographical space, and predominantly adopt strategies of non violence (except for the Maoists), and reforms rather than transformation. Many movements are in the process of getting transformed into political parties, getting co-opted by the state, or are aspiring for realignment with varieties of social forces.
Many Indians are vulnerable, due to the contradictions between economic prosperity and livelihood insecurity, legal enactment and political commitment, the culture of inclusion and the politics of subordination. Despite being routinised and reformative, social movements have remained inseparable parts of social progress to create space for collective contestation against these insecurities and vulnerabilities and to reorient collective identities for self expression and fulfilment.
By Guobin Yang, University of Pennsylvania
Confining my discussion to Chinese-language publications only, I see three trends in the scholarship on contentious politics in China. The first is the rapidly growing quantity of academic journal articles in these areas. This is clear from a quick keyword search of the major Chinese academic journals database www.cnki.net. I searched for several Chinese phrases denoting social movements and collective action on March 20, 2015 in “abstract” rather than “full-text.” If a keyword like “mass incidents” appears in the abstract of an article, chances are the article is about some form of contentious politics (“mass incidents” being an official term for designating social protests). The results show an increasing number of articles in the past decade:
|Mass incidents (qunti xing shijian)||Social movements (shehui yundong)||Collective action
The second trend is that much of the work focuses on internet-related activism and protest and in this, scholars of journalism and communication, not sociologists, seem to be taking the lead. Many articles on “mass incidents” deal with “internet mass incidents,” which is the official term for internet-triggered protest. Another euphemistic term for internet protest is internet events or new media events.
Considering the frequency of popular protest in China, online and offline, it is not surprising that Chinese scholars are producing more research on it. Indeed, the Chinese government provides some support through its social science funding mechanisms, since government leaders themselves want to better understand popular protest, if only in order to contain it more effectively. The large amount of research on contentious politics has generated many insightful analyses of contemporary protest activities. With major works by Charles Tilly, Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, Alain Touraine and many others all translated into Chinese, and with a younger generation of Chinese scholars fully competent in reading and using English-language scholarship, Western social movement theories and concepts have become standard references in these studies.
Considering that many Chinese scholars emphasize the importance of developing indigenous concepts and theories for analyzing Chinese realities, however, significant theoretical or conceptual breakthroughs remain few and far between. One exception is perhaps a book on rural protest by the sociologist Xing Ying. First published in Chinese in 2011, the book came out in English in 2013 titled A Study of the Stability of Contemporary Rural Chinese Society. It attracted attention in China because it uses a concept from traditional Chinese philosophy to explain why Chinese villagers protest. Called qi, the concept is translated as “vigor” in the English version and as “emotion” in the English title of the original Chinese edition. Neither translation is accurate, but roughly speaking, qi resembles the notion of “moral grammar” in Axel Honneth’s book The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts. Ying’s purpose in using qi to explain popular protest is similar to that of Honneth and many others in the social movement field, which is to try to overcome the dichotomy of reason and emotion in understanding the motivations for protest. In this sense, Ying’s book initiates an interesting conversation between Chinese and Western concepts and for that reason, merits the attention of scholars outside of China.
I should add, however, that more and more scholars in China are now publishing in English-language journals outside of China, including high-impact international journals. Due to space limits, unfortunately, I have to leave out their works.
By Olivier Fillieule, University of Lausanne
In the 1990s social movement studies in France witnessed an exponential growth, resulting in a significant accumulation of knowledge. The combined influence of Marxist concepts, the socio-genetic and configurational thought of Norbert Elias, Bourdieusian critical sociology, and the expanding dominance of an interactionist paradigm in research on activism, lent some originality to current research.
The lion’s share of the last twenty years of publications in social movement studies has been dedicated to three domains.
First, the diversity of repertories of action, signalling the critical importance of Charles Tilly’s legacy. For example, on demonstrations (Fillieule and Tartakowsky 2013), hunger strikes (Siméant 1998), squats (Péchu 2006), rent strikes (Hmed 2006), public meetings (Cossart 2013) or ethical consumption (Dubuisson-Quellier, 2009; Balsiger 2010). Research also examined modes of resistance to authority, associated with the initiative to import social movement theory in research on the MENA region (Bennani-Chraïbi, Fillieule 2003, 2012; Zaki 2005; Vairel 2014), on Turkey (Gourisse 2014) on Latin America (e.g. Massal 2005) and on black Africa (Siméant 2014).
Second, and apart some developments in gendered social movements and feminist protests (Fillieule and Roux, 2009; Bereni research has mainly focussed on the “new struggles” of the day. For example humanitarian commitments (Dauvin and Siméant 2002; Collovald et al. 2002); the struggles of the most deprived populations – the homeless, unemployed, and others (Pierru 2003; Dunezat 2004; Péchu 2006; Mathieu 2006, 2014; Chabanet and Faniel 2013); anti AIDS activism (Pinell and al 2002; Broqua 2005; Voegtli 2009), associations connected with immigration (Siméant 1998; Hamidi 2006; Hmed 2006), and antiglobalization (Agrikoliansky and al. 2005; and Sommier, and al. 2008; Sommier and Fillieule 2013). Also, “68” began to interest university researchers (Pagis 2014), long after Sommier published her pathbreaking Ph.D. devoted to this issue from the perspective of a comparative analysis of France and Italy (Sommier 1998).
Finally, French researchers have explored at length the question of activism and the process of commitment, especially with reference to an interactionist model of careers (Fillieule 2001, 2010). Consequently, contrary to the North American academic field, where researchers specializing in the subfield of studies of socialization have kept their distance from the sociology of activism, the French have considered socialization studies pivotal. Ethnographic qualitative approaches have proven best able to analyse activist work and its social divisions (Fillieule 2005; Pagis 2008; Joshua 2015).
Two other French specificities deserve mention. First, unlike the United States, where the success of social movement studies has produced an effect of closing off the field, its exponential development in France has, on the contrary, translated into an invasive spreading of its instruments and issues into a great number of academic domains. There is an important point of convergence with the increasingly voiced ambition across the Atlantic to reposition the study of protest activities in the context of the political, economic and social relations which surround them, taking into account the multiplicity of actors involved and their strategies.
Second, in terms of methods, the French usually exercise caution with respect to undue simplifications of a stratospheric comparativism, arguing that we learn more about the dynamic of protests and collective action from in-depth case studies than in compiling vast data bases that risk stripping the explanatory factors chosen of all meaning. It offers a genuine means of investigating many paths outlined in theory but still unexplored in practice, due to the lack of adequate methodological tools: the logic of activist trajectories; emotions and affects (Latté 2008; Traïni 2009, 2011); the dynamics of events; and the face to face interactions which comprise the texture of protest.
Social Movement Studies in France: A Short Overview
Some handbooks summarizing and synthesizing French research:
Neveu, E. 1996. Sociologie des Mouvements Sociaux, Paris, La Découverte.
Céfaï D. 2007. Pourquoi se Mobilise-t-on ? Les Théories de l’Action Collective, Paris, La Découverte.
Fillieule, O., L. Mathieu and C. Péchu. (eds). 2009. Dictionnaire des Mouvements Sociaux, Paris, presses de Science-Po.
Fillieule, O., E. Agrikoliansky and I. Sommier. (eds). 2010. Penser les Mouvements Sociaux, Paris, La Découverte.
Accornero, G. and O. Fillieule (eds.). Forthcoming 2016. Social Movement Studies in Europe. A State of the Art, New York/Oxford, Berghahn books.
Agrikoliansky, E., O. Fillieule and N. Mayer. (eds). 2005. L’Altermondialisme en France. La Longue Histoire d’une Nouvelle Cause, Paris, Flammarion.
Balsiger, P. (2010) ‘Making Political Consumers: The Tactical Action Repertoire of a Campaign for Clean Clothes’, Social Movement Studies 9(3): 311-329.
Balsiger, P. (2014) The Fight for Ethical Fashion. The Origins and Interactions of the Clean Clothes Campaign. Aldershot, Ashgate.
Bennani-Chraïbi, M. and O. Fillieule. (eds). 2003. Résistances et Protestations dans les Sociétés Musulmanes, Paris, Presses de Sciences-Po.
Bennani-Chraibi, M. and O. Fillieule. 2012. ‘Towards a Sociology of Revolutionary Situations. Reflections on the Arab Uprisings’, Revue Française de Science Politique, 62(5) : 1-29.
Bereni, L. 2015. La bataille de la parité. Mobilisations pour la féminisation du pouvoir, Paris, Economica.
Broqua, C. 2005. Agir pour ne pas mourir, Paris, Presses de Science-Po.
Chabanet, D. and J. Faniel (eds). 2013. Les mobilisations de chômeurs en France : problématiques d’alliances et alliances problématiques, Paris, l’Harmattan.
Collovald, A. et al. (ed.). 2002. L’Humanitaire ou le Management des Dévouements, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes.
Cossart, P. 2013. Le Meeting Politique. De la Délibération à la Manifestation (1868-1939), Rennes, PUR.
Dauvin, P. and J. Siméant. 2002. Le travail Humanitaire. Les Acteurs des ONG du Siège au Terrain, Paris, Presses de Science-Po.
Dubuisson-Quellier, S. 2009. La Consommation Engagée, Paris, Presses de sciences Po.
Dunezat, X. 2004. Chômage et Action Collective. Luttes dans la Lutte. Mouvements de Chômeurs et Chômeuses de 1997-1998 en Bretagne et Rapports Sociaux de Sexe, Ph.D. dissertation. Paris: University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
Fillieule, O. (ed.). 2005. Le Désengagement Militant, Paris, Belin.
Fillieule, O. 1997. Stratégies de la Rue, Paris, Presses de Sciences-Po.
Fillieule, O. 2001. ‘Post-scriptum : Propositions pour une Analyse Processuelle de l’Engagement Individuel’, Revue Française de Science Politique, 51(1-2) : 199-217.
Fillieule, O. 2010. ‘Some Elements of an Interactionist Approach to Political Disengagement’, Social Movement Studies, 9(1) : 1-15.
Fillieule, O. and D. Tartakowsky. 2013. Demonstrations, Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood.
Fillieule, O. and P. Roux. 2009. Le sexe du Militantisme, Paris, Presses de Science-Po.
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