Movement Mobilisation, Political Strategy, and the Party System: Salient ‒though still Silent‒ Dimensions

Contentious Politics
Social Movements
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Seraphim Seferiades
Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences
Panel Discussant
Mario Diani
Università degli Studi di Trento
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08/09/2017 14:00
Building: BL07 P.A. Munchs hus Floor: 1 Room: PAM SEM11
Researching the ways in which structural, ‘environmental’ factors influence the emergence, development, and performance of social movements is as old as it is respected in Contentious Politics. Especially, nowadays, with the filed apparently past the early phases of the political process approach (marred by either mechanistic objectivism or an excessively formal-institutionalist assessment of the ‘political opportunity structure’), we all seem to be abreast of the fact that the ‘environment’ is both complex (hence it cannot be reduced to any one individual factor or dimension) and a product of the incessant, relational interplay between structure and action. But equal attention to agency and the intricate ways in which it affects movement-pertaining reality is also to be found in the latest appraisals of movement outcomes, several them seeking to overcome the ‘naturalism’ characterising earlier works. To so proclaim, however, does not mean that the danger of reified renderings ‒approaching political opportunity structures as immutable givens, and examining movement outcomes as phenomena that, in the last analysis, are objectively preordained‒ has been done away with. Aspiring to contribute insights for enhancing this new, more balanced understanding of movement dynamics by highlighting the theoretical importance of factors that, though salient in the reality of social movements, continue to remain silent in most analyses, this panel focuses on two essential questions: (a) to what extent and in what ways does the action movements undertake become part of the socio-political and cultural environment they face? This involves analysis of a variety of themes: to start with, how do movements themselves perceive and interpret their environment and what influences their different penchants? How do dimensions such as timing, space and ontological narratives influence the capacity of contentious actors to transform reality? What is the role of political strategy as an autonomous factor? This relates to the second major question the panel explores pertaining to outcomes, especially as they bear upon the party system: (b) does the new cartelised politics characterising most party systems pose insuperable limits to what movement actors and parties of the Left can do to effect meaningful change, or is this view an instance of old-fashioned objectivism? In what ways does policy content (involving aspects such as ideas, goals, and political tactics) matter both for social movements and parties? Drawing empirical material primarily from the case of crisis-ridden Greece, the panel also invites papers with a different regional focus provided they further the theoretical issues it raises.

Paper List

Crisis of Representation within the Greek Context: Ties and Disconnections between Movements and Party Politics View Paper Details
Narrating Political Opportunities: Explaining Strategic Adaptation in the Climate Movement View Paper Details
Party Cartelisation, Movement Dynamics and Political Strategy: Preliminary Conclusions from the Greek Contentious Cycle (2009-2016) View Paper Details
The Legacy of the ‘Squares’: Popular Mobilizations and the Unfolding of the Organic Crisis View Paper Details
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