Date: 19 May 2016
Donatella Della Porta, Professor of Sociology at Scuola normale superiore, and Director of the Centre of Social Movements Studies.
Social movement studies have developed a useful kit of concepts and theories, well adapted to understand social movements in core capitalist countries in the peak of the growth of the welfare state. This is, however, insufficient for understanding global contentious politics in the year 2000s. In particular, assumptions about the role of political opportunities, resource mobilization and framing processes need to be updated when applied to different types of conflict, adding in particular a focus on the socio-economic conditions for protests. A dialogue between social movement studies and political economy is needed in order to help understanding the ways in which the capitalist developments account for the specific forms social movement take but without forgetting the agentic strength of social movements as producers of social change. In particular, this theoretical dialogue could be useful in order to realize how could happen that social groups which were weak in terms of material and symbolic resources mobilized, and even mobilized in their millions? But also, which are the forms that social movements are taking under this capitalist developments, which are their strengths and weaknesses? In order to answer these questions, it is important to understand how movements adapt to changes in capitalism but also how do they challenge them. This means we have to take into account the conditions of capitalism as constraining the environment but at the same time also recognize the agency of actors that could devise strategies to change structures.
Donatella is known for her research in the areas of social movements, corruption, political violence, police and policies of public order.
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