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Democracy in Social Movements

2021-10-20 13:26:02


Donatella Della Porta is professor of political science, dean of the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences and Director of the PhD program in Political Science and Sociology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, where she also leads the Center on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos).

Among the main topics of her research: social movements, political violence, terrorism, corruption, the police and protest policing. She has directed a major ERC project Mobilizing for Democracy, on civil society participation in democratization processes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Mattei Dogan Prize for distinguished achievements in the field of political sociology. She is Honorary Doctor of the universities of Lausanne, Bucharest, Goteborg, Jyvaskyla and the University of Peloponnese.



She is the author or editor of 90 books, 150 journal articles and 150 contributions in edited volumes. Among her very recent publications are: Social Movements: An introduction, 3rd edition (Blackwell, 2020); Can Social Movements Save Democracy? (Polity, 2020), Über das Potenzial sozialer Bewegungen Die schoene neue Demokratie. Ueber das potentiale soziale Bewegungen (Campus Verlag, 2020), with Lorenzo Cini and Cesar Guzman, Contesting Higher Education (Bristol University Press, 2020), with Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Andrea Felicetti, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis, Discoursive Turns and Critical Junctures, Oxford University Press, 2020), Legacies and Memories in Movements (Oxford University Press, 2018); Sessantotto. Passato e presente dell’anno ribelle (Fertrinelli, 2018); Contentious moves (Palgrave 2017), Global Diffusion of Protest (Amsterdam University Press, 2017), Late Neoliberalism and its Discontents (Palgrave, 2017); Movement Parties in Times of Austerity (Polity 2017), Where did the Revolution go? (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Social Movements in Times of Austerity (Polity 2015), Methodological practices in social movement research (Oxford University Press, 2014); Spreading Protest (ECPR Press 2014, with Alice Mattoni), Participatory Democracy in Southern Europe (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014, with Joan Font and Yves Sintomer); Mobilizing for Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014); Can Democracy be Saved?, Polity Press, 2013; Clandestine Political Violence, Cambridge University Press, 2013 (with D. Snow, B. Klandermans and D. McAdam (eds.). Blackwell Encyclopedia on Social and Political Movements, Blackwell. 2013; Mobilizing on the Extreme Right (with M. Caiani and C. Wagemann), Oxford University Press, 2012; Meeting Democracy (ed. With D. Rucht), Cambridge University Press, 2012; The Hidden Order of Corruption (with A. Vannucci), Ashgate 2012.


movements cannot be characterized as unified actors: by their very nature, they are made up of loose networks, their repertoire of action is varied, and their collective identity is not structured within specific organizational boundaries (della Porta and Diani 2006, chap. 1). This is all the more true for the actor we investigate, which has been described as organizationally fluid, strategically broad, and tolerant of diversity (della Porta 2007c). As a result, the very presence of a global justice movement has been subject to debate. The use of the singular ‘movement’ or the plural ‘movements’ to refer to the groups and networks mobilizing on global justice is discussed among activists and scholars alike, with opinions reflecting in part the degree of harmony or divergence in mobilization at the national level (see, for example, della Porta 2005c; Rucht 2005). The heterogeneity of the movement, acknowledged as an asset by activists who talk of a ‘movement of movements’, has been considered by some scholars as a sign that the mobilizations on global issues do not share enough common meaning to allow us to speak of a social movement (Rucht 2005); by others as resonating with internalized values of tolerance and inclusiveness (della Porta 2005c). The question of the presence of ‘a movement’ has been addressed by looking at the intensity of activists’ identification with the movement, the homogeneity of diagnostic and prognostic frames, the density of mobilizing networks, the continuity of action.

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