European Sociological Association Conference, Murcia, Spain Sept 23-26 2003


Coordinator: Mario Diani (

Associate coordinator: Abby Peterson (


All submissions to reach coordinators by 28 February 2003 at the very latest.


The 2001 Helsinki sessions of the Social Movements Research Network were very successful, with eleven panels and over forty paper presentations. At the Murcia sessions, we plan to continue some of the conversations, which started in Helsinki, in particular, those bridging social movement research with cognate areas of inquiry, while adding new themes to our agenda. In addition, our Network will be coordinated with the Research Stream: ‘Global Movements/”Militarized” States’. We hope that the discussions and interchange between our Network and the Stream will enrich our understandings of contemporary protest today. Accordingly, we invite proposals for both individual presentations and thematic panels. As of now, the following panels for the Research Network are planned:


1. Collective action, labor, and the workplace

In recent years, and despite remarkable exceptions, social movement analysis has mostly focused on ‘new’ types of movements, defined by educational level and/or belief orientations, to the detriment of instances on collective action based on professional groups, labor relations, and the workplace. However, class-based mobilizations have been far from rare all over Europe in the last decade, from the Liverpool dockers to the recurrent protest by public employees in France, to the wave of union action in Italy against governmental plans to alter labor legislation. Of particular interest are signs of mobilization by workers in unusual settings such as the unqualified service sector and the highly qualified professionals in the new economy. We invite both theoretical papers, documenting recent developments, and theoretical papers, re-assessing social movement analysts’ toolbox to accommodate both recent and not-so-recent types of class action, as well as non-class-based action.


2. Social movement analysis and third sector research

This session continues a dialogue which started in Helsinki. What type of cross-fertilization can occur between these two streams of research? Can we cumulate findings in areas such as recruitment and participation patterns, the role of voluntary associations and movement organizations in broader political and policy networks, the tension between organizational growth and increasing dependency on public funds? Papers are invited integrating theory and research findings on these and related issues.


3. Citizens’ grass-roots action in the cities 

This panel will discuss traits and developments in citizens’ mobilizations, which do not link directly with national organizations, or indeed with formal organization at all, but rather take the form of local grass-roots committees. Ranging from environmental to law-and-order issues, citizens’ committees pose challenging questions to analyst of collective action. What are the dominant strategies and organizational features of these groups? What is their relation to established models of left-right politics? Can they be regarded as a distinctive component of broader neo-populist trends, both in their democratic and un-democratic forms?


4. Social movement contexts: local spaces, national spaces and global spaces

This session will highlight the separate and intertwined spaces of contentious politics. The slogan ‘think global, act local’ is assuming new meanings in contemporary collective action. The session will highlight the ways that social movement networks are increasingly grounded in inter-locking spatial contexts. Questions such as whether global, sic transnational movements, are indeed emerging, together with the eventual forms they are taking will be addressed. Has the national context for social movement mobilization lost its saliency?


5. Contemporary social movement protest: new forms of organization and new forms of collective action

In recent years we have witnessed a proliferation of strategies and tactics for political protest — innovative, imaginative, contentious, and at times even violent. The proliferation of strategies and tactics has led both to the media enhancement of contentious politics and to tensions within specific action spaces. At the same time we have witnessed the emergence of new, highly tentative and fragile forms for the organization of collective action. Mobilizations, across the globe, have become increasingly coalitional. Social movement groups, organizations and networks are more and more bridging their differences in order to realize a concerted voice — both in the case of one-off action events and in the case of particular protest campaigns. What new dimensions does the coalitional principle of organization lend to contemporary collective action? What has the proliferation of action strategies meant for collective action?


6.Global movements/militarized societies?

The political climate of the world has changed radically since the events in Seattle and not least since the events of September 11th 2001. This panel will address the battery of questions attached to these changes. How are states confronting contentious politics today? We will highlight questions dealing with policing protest in specific societies; the increasing cooperation between police forces across national divides in response to the increasing level of transnational cooperation among protest networks; and the hardened climate and use of military forces in some societies in order to come to terms with the new wave of protest mobilizations.  Lastly, we will even address the question of terrorist networks and the so-called ‘war on terrorism’. In what ways are public spaces for democratic deliberation threatened by the new faces of contemporary contentious politics, as well as the state’s responses to these mobilizations and actions? Are ‘open societies’ giving way to ‘militarized societies’?




Additional submissions: members of the Network and all researchers in this and cognate areas are invited to submit their own panel proposals along with individual paper proposals.