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Social Movements and Political Change

  • Fabio de NardisEmail author
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Abstract

Social movements are the actors through which the masses historically give voice to their demands. The media spotlight on them is growing so much that today it is hard to find a newspaper that, on any contentious issue, ranging from civil rights to animal rights, from the environment to employment, from peace to air quality, does not report on the mobilisations it produces as a result of the civil society’s ability to organise collective protest events. Social movements are not organisations, but they rely on organisation; they are not interest groups, because they carry out their action in an extra-institutional dimension, yet they cannot avoid confronting political institutions. They have a horizontal organisation through networks of informal relationships, but still have an internal hierarchy and a leadership system; they are born as national phenomena, but they have the ability to unfold on a transnational dimension; they can be transitory or lasting, violent or non-violent, parameters that vary according to their objectives and the action repertoires adopted in the context of a protest-oriented form of participation. After defining the field of social movements and the main analytical approaches, we will address some areas investigated by social movement scholars, such as the cognitive and identity dimension, the movements’ framework, the connection between social movements and emotions, and the organisational dimension. We will analyse the thorny issue of action repertoires, protest forms, and the political, cultural, social and biographical impacts of social movements. A specific section will be devoted to the communicative dimension of the movements with a particular focus on the role played by digital and social media which have played a fundamental role in the construction of contemporary social movements. The chapter will end with a section divided into three parts: the first will deal with the relationship between social movements, political context and democratic construction, with a focus on the issue of the policing of protest; the second will be devoted to the relationship between social movements and the transnational dimension, with a focus on the practices of externalisation, internalisation and diffusion of social protest; the third will examine the role of social movements in times of austerity, with a focus on social resistance and resilience practices in a context of economic crisis.

Keywords

Social movements Identity SMOs Frame Social networks Social resilience 

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, Society, and Human StudiesUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly

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