Participation and Mobilization between Crises, Polarization, and new Challenges to Democracy
Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Participation and Mobilisation
This Section aims to bring together Panels around current issues in the study of political participation and social movements.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the widespread counter-measures, as well new armed conflicts and aggressions in Ukraine and other regions, have deeply altered conditions for social mobilizations and (democratic) political participation in multiple ways.
Established repertoires of collective action around the globe have been challenged by lockdowns and other restrictions on citizen movements, and the long-term consequences of such experience need to be investigated. At the same time, established institutional actors such as political parties, courts, and governments have, on the one hand, continuously lost public trust (and membership), and on the other hand, have become new focal points for solving international crises such as the pandemic or the raging war in Ukraine.
What is more, right-wing extremist movements around the globe are increasingly presenting themselves as liberators in the name of 'real' democracy and have appropriated frames and repertoires previously established by progressive movements. Furthermore, after being stopped in their tracks by pandemic measures, mobilizations for climate action such as Last Generation, have become more contentious and have been gaining momentum.
Generally speaking, collective action seems to be undergoing visible transformations, with shifting opportunities that bring to the fore new actors, new repertoires and new partnerships.
Scholars of social movement mobilization, participation, political parties, and democratic theory have emphasized that the dynamics of the (political) engagement of citizens are constantly changing. Consequently, legitimation, ideals, repertoires and pathways of critique and opposition to power assume new forms: movements and protests emerge and develop differently than they have in the past.
The contemporary rise of right-wing populism as well as shifting movement landscapes, protest events, state reactions towards movements, party systems and voter turnout bear witness to these moving grounds. This ever-changing landscape of citizen participation demands ongoing research into who gets involved, how and to what effect.
As the heated public debates about new repertoires in the climate movement action, such as storming museums and activists gluing themselves to crossroads highlight, these shifts of what is considered legitimate repertoires of critique and collective action, are highly contested and subject to controversy. Also, from a normative democratic standpoint – the nexus between collective action and democratization is a question that has to be renewed time and again.
This Section takes a closer look at topics that enable us to better understand how social movement organizations and actors of collective action, including governments, media, and companies, respond to changing political and conflict contexts.
Furthermore, we want to analyze how citizen demands for and patterns of participation are shifting.
▪️ How have the conditions for movements, social mobilizations, and political participation changed over the last year, and what reactions, innovations, new networks, or decline has resulted so far?
▪️ How have the structures of conflict in our societies shifted, where have new polarisations opened and existing ones been redefined, altered, or (re)appropriated?
▪️ How have liberal ideas of democracy and political discourse come under pressure?
We invite Panels which speak to the established core interests in the study of political participation and social movements, as well as to more recent or emerging areas of academic inquiry. In line with the scope of the Standing Group on Participation and Mobilisation, this Section particularly aims at bringing the literature on political participation and social movements closer together.
Panels seek to explore several topics for which citizen engagement has long been highly relevant, or where its role has recently changed dramatically. We expect that such a topical focus will facilitate empirically coherent and theoretically innovative discussions.
The following list is a preliminary overview of possible areas to be covered, and Panel Chairs apt to leading the respective discussions, though we strongly encourage colleagues to propose Panels and Papers that go beyond these topics. Based proposals received, we will adapt our Section to the subject areas in which our scholarly community is currently most interested.
1 Social movements and the parliamentary arena: New pathways for the institutional-extra-institutional nexus
Potential Chair: Felix Butzlaff, Vienna University of Economics and Business
2 Experimental collective action: New solutions for social change
Potential Chairs: Margaret Haderer, Technical University Vienna; Julia Zilles, SOFI Goettingen
3 Environmental politics and the new climate movements
Potential Chair: Lorenzo Zamponi, Scuola Normale Superiore
4 What Happens After Anti-Covid Measures? The Re- and De-Mobilization of Covid Protests
Potential Chair: Louisa Parks, University of Trento
5 Continuities and transformations in forms of collective action I
Bridging fields and research traditions (in cooperation with the Standing Group on Political Violence)
Potential Chair: Lorenzo Bosi, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence
6 Continuities and transformations in forms of collective action II
Empirical case studies (in cooperation with the Standing Group on Political Violence)
Potential Chair: Stefan Malthaner, Hamburg Institute for Social Research
7 The new momentum of right-wing protest
Potential Chairs: Anna-Sophie Heinze, University of Trier (tbc), Manés Weisskircher, TU Dresen (tbc)
8 Anti-Corruption Movements: Between Economy, Activism and Democracy
Potential Chair: Alice Mattoni, University of Bologna
9 Counter-movements and political contention
Potential Chair: Priska Daphi, University of Bielefeld