Call for papers: Social Movements Midterm conference 2020, “Democratic struggles: contention, social movements and democracy”, organized by ESA Research Network 25 Social Movements, ECPR Standing Group on Participation and Mobilization, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia, 27-29 May 2020, Conference organizers: Joost the Moor (Stockholm University), Katrin Uba (Uppsala University and University of Tartu, local organizer), Katerina Vrablikova (Univeristy of Bath), Mattias Wahlström (University of Gothenburg), and Lorenzo Zamponi (Scuola Normale Superiore)

Many democracies experience turbulent developments. Some countries undergo erosion of democratic institutions, sometimes connected with rising authoritarianism and illiberalism, some face broad public dissatisfaction with politics, providing a hotbed for populist movements. Unresponsive political elites and power centers outside democratic control, exercising power over processes and goods of fundamental human importance –such as climate change, migration and access to decent housing –create a landscape where it seems increasingly difficult to exert influence from below. What is the role of protest and social movements in those processes? How do movements deal with problems of representation and the volatile concept of ‘the people’? How do movements regarded as an anti-democratic or populist threat and those active in the name of fostering democracy mobilize? Are today’s democracies deteriorating or do the current developments signify the very principle of democracy as an ongoing political contestation between mass and elites? The conference will address various questions related to social movements and democracy as well as other key questions in current social movement research. Specifically, it will focus on issues, such as: contentious politics in the context of democratic backsliding; how movements strengthen and challenge democracy; youth activism; social movements and democratic innovations; framing and narratives in collective action; radicalism and populism; repression and political violence; internal structure of social movements; collective action in non-democratic regimes; radical right, housing, and climate change mobilizations; democratic citizenship and rights activism. Submissions focused on other key questions in current social movement research that are not related to the conference theme are encouraged as well.

We invite submissions from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives and using a variety of methodologies. The midterm conference aims to bring together distinguished scholars and younger researchers not only from sociology and political science, but also from related disciplines, including economics, geography, anthropology, psychology, history, international relations, and area studies that rely on different approaches using qualitative and/or quantitative empirical research as well as political theory to address these and other topics. Submissions to do a presentation via Skype will be also considered. The conference will feature key note speeches by:

  • Antoaneta Dimitrova (Leiden University)
  • Swen Hutter (Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Walter Nicholls (University of California, Irvine)
  • 1 key note TBA

The deadline for applications is the 15th of January2020.

For more details see the full Call for Papers (pdf)