Last call “Connecting Social Movement Studies and Political Participation Research” @ ECPR General Conference

Last call “Connecting Social Movement Studies and Political Participation Research” @ ECPR General Conference

Dear colleagues,


There’s two weeks left to submit papers and panels for the 2018 ECPR General Conference in Hamburg, 22-25 August (deadline 15 February). The SG organizes a section on “Connecting Social Movement Studies and Political Participation Research”, which generally welcomes papers on participation and mobilization, and in particular those connecting the two.


You can submit your paper as part of one of the panel proposals listed below. To do so, send your abstract (max 500 words) to one of the panel chairs, no later than 12 February.


Alternatively, e.g. if panels are full, you can submit a paper abstract directly to the section here. If selected, your paper will be placed in one of the panels according to fit.


We look forward to your submissions,


Joost de Moor and Felix Butzlaff (section chairs)



Panels in the section:

The consequences of the multifaceted interactions between media and movements.
Chairs: Lorenzo Zamponi and Alice Mattoni – Scuola Normale Superiore ( or
Social movements are deeply connected with a broad range of media technologies, professionals and outlets. In so doing, they rely on a rich repertoire of communication. Acknowledging this multi-faceted relationship between activists and media, the panel welcomes papers that investigate how social movements integrate different types of media, media professionals, and media outlets, as well as papers that interrogate individual forms of mediatized political participation.



Heuristic and methodological challenges of understanding large protest events
Chairs: Simon Teune and Peter Ullrich – TU Berlin

Large protest events such as summit mobilizations are complex to study. Scholars are confronted with a plethora of heterogeneous actor groups holding specific strategic orientations. These groups encourage or discourage specific forms of action and they interact in ways that are shaped by previous conflicts. Interactions are entangled with processes of interpretation taking place in arenas as different as affinity group meetings, social media posts, and television news. This complex array is challenging. It forces scholars to make pragmatic choices that shape the academic image of protest events. The panel invites contributions that tackle the heuristic and methodological challenges of large protest events, driven by theoretical considerations or by empirical knowledge.


Traces of multiple belongings: social movement and trade union participation

Chairs: Jenny Jansson and Sabrina Zajak

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Movement and trade union participation seems to follow very different logics. They differ in their organizational structure; underlying democratic principles and motives of collective action. Indeed, both social movement and industrial relations literature, have stressed that trade unions and social movements represent distinct collective action forms. Still, we can observe that people are active in both. This panel compares the different modes of participation in movements and unions and asks about the causes and consequences of overlapping membership or multiple belongings. It welcomes papers that investigate if and how multiple belongings influence the type of participation and the ways multiple belongings contribute to the diffusion of knowledge, tactics or ideologies.


The contextual determinants of social movements and political participation

Chair: Joost de Moor – Keele University


The political opportunity structure approach has long been one of the most established approaches to the study of social movements (Kriesi, 2004; Meyer, 2004). More recently it has been successfully applied to political participation research as well (Braun & Hutter, 2016; de Moor, 2016; Quaranta, 2015; Vráblíková, 2016). This panel welcomes contributions from various disciplines and methodological backgrounds that seek to explain political participation and social movements by focusing on political, but also economic, cultural or discursive opportunity structures. More specifically, it aims to address the following questions: What can practitioners of such approaches working on participation or mobilization learn from each other, and how can their findings be brought together? Do explanations of individual level participation work for movements as well, or are distinct approaches required? What contextual factors determine participation and mobilization, and what causal mechanisms are at work in both cases?


Charles Tilly’s Legacy for Research on Political Contention in African States

Chairs: Corinna Jentzsch  and Ingrid Samset

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The scholarship on political contention, mobilisation and conflict is heavily indebted to the intellectual legacy of Charles Tilly. While his ideas have inspired an extensive literature on dynamics in the Global North, a number of scholars have also made use of his ideas to examine cases on the African continent.


With this panel, we wish to explore in what ways adopting a Tilly-inspired lens may deepen our understanding of contentious politics in African states. Episodes of contention in Africa vary in outcome: while some are associated with escalation to violence and civil war, others yield processes of non-violent bargaining that reshape the social contract. Evaluation of outcomes also depends on the time perspective. Across Africa in recent years, protests against issues such as electoral fraud, rising commodity prices, foreign influence, and resource extraction practices have occurred through various forms of organisation, expressing a range of ideas about justice and the good society. Given how such protests shape political legitimacy and authority, we need better to grasp how they emerge and evolve, what messages they express and under what conditions they escalate into political violence.


We invite papers that draw on Tilly’s ideas in order to make sense of these questions as applied to contemporary Africa. The aim is to take stock of recent work on Africa in the Tillyan tradition, and explore how this research agenda can be taken further.


Non-participation and social movements

Panel Chair Felix Butzlaff

Co-Chair Julia Zilles, University of Göttingen


Frustrated expectations, disaffection and alienation from established pathways of political participation have often been identified as the driving forces of abstention from political participation while movement participation at the same time has been described to address those grievances in positive and mobilizing ways. When on the one hand the rise in movement participation is interpreted as an indicator of the loss of trust in more traditional formats of political participation this might on the other hand contradict empirical findings that movement participation is often not an exclusive vehicle for those alienated but facilitating complementary opportunities for those taking advantage of other forms of political participation as well.


Research on mobilization and participation has for a long time looked at the individual and collective conditionality of alienation and distrust leading to mobilization and has pointed to a variety of possibly activating resources: from political interest, the feeling of political efficacy, dissatisfaction with political outcomes, to low social inequality levels, higher educational levels, time constraints, financial resources or the presence of social networks. When missing these resources, frustration might in turn lead to de-mobilisation and non-participation.


This panel seeks to bring together research on alienation and frustration as mobilizing factors for political participation with the research on social movement participation. Who participates in movements out of political frustration and who abstains alienated even from social movements? Under which circumstances can social movements absorb those that turn away in disaffection from political parties, elections, and other established channels of democratic decision making and therefore help voice grievances that would otherwise be left unheard?


The panel invites papers that investigate the relationship between disaffection, alienation, non-participation and social movement participation. It especially welcomes participants to consider how differing demands for participation in different sectors of societies might be a consequence of disillusion with regard to traditional forms of political participation such as voting or political party membership etc.


Youth Participation and Social Change

Lorenzo Bosi and Anna Lavizzari – COSMOS, SNS

( or

Young people are often seen as the drivers of social change, in terms of: changes in forms of action; changes in the political regimes; changes in life courses; changes in political socialization; changes in lifestyles; changes in democratic models; changes in values systems; changes in political representation and behaviour; changes in political consumption While the panel particularly welcomes empirical papers related to youth participation and social change, the general aim is to further develop theoretical links between participation and social movements studies on how youth participation in different context and of different types drives social change.


Connecting Social Movement Studies and Political Participation: Research From social movement participation to informal (political) participation and vice-versa?

Laurence Bherer and Pascale Dufour, Political Science, University of Montreal

( or

It seems that more and more people are engaging in informal forms of political

participation, characterized by a low level of coordination, more or less ad hoc forms of

organization, and a focus on specific issues outside the realm of institutions and

organizations. Targeted citizen actions in urban spaces, “dumpster diving”, hosting of

refugees in Europe are some examples of these practices. These informal modes of

participation have been termed “individual collective action” or “personalised politics”;

they are individualized actions that combine both personal and social transformations, but they are not isolated acts; they are rather a diffuse and highly decentralized movement. How these forms of participation are related to social movements activism (and vice- versa)? Is it a sign of bigger changes affecting political engagement and even relations to politics?


Indeed, citizens engaged in these actions are directly practicing the changes that they

would like to pursue, and are not addressing demands to the government. Their actions

are very localized and concern day-to- day life. While these actions express a desire for

social change, there is no explicit political message targeted to public authorities or

political adversaries. Furthermore, these forms of participation, which may be more or

less widespread and simultaneous, are nonetheless poorly coordinated with other similar

actions, as is the case with social movement organizations’ activities. Finally, these forms of action do not seem to seek collective and public recognition, as is the case with the women’s, Indigenous or LGBT movements, for example. Nevertheless, the political

dimension may be strongly present, especially for people who see the transformation of

their private lives as a strong political commitment.


The aim of this panel is to gather people interested in questions related to the

transformation of political participation and activism. More specifically, we would

appreciate papers that propose to discuss the following: (1) the different terms and

concepts used to refer to informal political participation; (2) the relationship of informal

political participation and social movements; and (3) the relationship of informal political

participation to the “traditional” forms of politics, or institutions. On each of these dimensions, informal participation represent an analytical and theoretical challenges that we consider highly relevant to think about political participation and activism.

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