Addressing intersectionality: social movements and the politics of inclusivity

Workshop organizers: Elizabeth Evans, Goldsmiths, University of London, Ilana Eloit, London School of Economicsn and Eléonore Lépinard, University of Lausanne , ,

All papers for our workshop must be submitted via MyECPR:

We will not be able to approve any papers that are submitted directly to us, as they will need to be in the system.  Feel free to contact us if you have any queries.

For submission guidelines and further instructions, please visit the ECPR website:

The deadline for paper proposals is Wednesday 6th December.

Workshop outline:

Social movements play a critical role in local, national and international politics, mobilising a range of diverse groups and interests. Exploring who is included and who is excluded within these movements is a critical project. It is a task that requires an intersectional lens to examine how multiple and overlapping points of oppression shape power dynamics within social movements. Such an approach, enables scholars to identify the challenges that a lack of heterogeneity poses to the legitimacy, accountability and representational functions of social movement politics.

With historical and theoretical roots in Black feminism and women of color activism, intersectionality is a concept forged to address concerns relating to inclusivity and representation in social movement (Davis 1981, hooks 1981, Moraga and Anzaldúa 1981, Lorde 1984, Crenshaw 1989).  More than four decades later, acknowledging diversity, inequalities invisibilities, as well as desires to “organize on one’s own” (Roth 2004) amongst political activists has become increasingly important to gender and politics, LGBTQI+ politics, and race and politics scholars; many of whom argue that identifying and analyzing power dynamics between and amongst different identity groups is critical to exploring issues of access and inclusion within civil society movements (e.g. Crenshaw 1991, Strolovitch 2008, Springer 2005).

However, this call for an intersectional perspective on social movement’s discourses, practices and politics of alliances and conflicts is far from being systematically adopted by social movements scholars. Whilst intersectionality has constituted a paradigm shift in gender studies (Hancock, 2007), and has become increasingly important for scholars of race and ethnicity as well as LGBTQI politics (Kearl, 2015), it is not clear whether those active within other types of social movement, or those studying them, also take account of difference and the interactive effects of identity markers and structural inequalities. While research exploring intersectionality and social movements will necessarily appeal to scholars of women’s, civil rights, labor unions, migrant rights and LGBTQI+ movements; issues of inclusion, accessibility and accountability are critical for all of those working on social movement studies.

The purpose of this workshop is to develop a new research network that is dedicated to exploring the conceptual, empirical and methodological challenges and opportunities that applying an intersectional framework offers to scholars of social movement studies who are looking to apply it to new areas. Hence, this research network will bring together those working on empirical and theoretical studies that examine a range of different social movements, in order to develop new ways of thinking about, and applying, intersectionality.

We invite papers that explore the current ‘state’ of intersectionality politics and the politics of intersectionality as they apply to social movements in Europe and around the world. In particular, we welcome papers that address inter-related and politically relevant questions concerning the ways in which we apply and theorize intersectionality in our studies of social movements:

  • How does the politics of exclusion or inclusion play out within social movements?
  •  How does race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, and class structure activism in various contexts and at different levels (national/transnational)?
  • Which kinds of social movements take account of intersectionality and how?
  • How are movements and organizations trying to put in practice(s) intersectionality?
  • How is intersectionality shaping alliances or conflicts between movements and organizations?
  • What are the strategies, tactical repertoires, boundary making and identity-building practices forged by movements representing multiply-marginalized groups in different contexts? How do they negotiate the tension between self-organization and alliance with/inclusion in other movements?
  • Do social movements that are not based upon traditional categories of identity politics, such as animal rights or labor movements, reflect upon issues of differences/inclusion?
  • What can an intersectional lens bring to studies of identity and affect within movements?
  • How can intersectionality help us address the success or failure of specific tactical repertoires?
  • How does the language and discourse of intersectionality – or other concepts that might be used to designate similar issues – affect debates concerning inclusion in different countries and in different movements?
  • What are the methodological tools that must be developed to foster an intersectional perspective in social movements studies?

This timely workshop will provide a critical reflection on both the historic and conceptual development of the intersectional framework, as well as facilitating empirical and theoretical analyses of future directions for the role of intersectionality in social movement research.