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Call for Contributions: RIOTS – Violence as politics? International Conference, 19-20 May 2017, Berlin, Organizers: Working Group Riots within the Institut für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung (ipb)

“Riots” continue to make headlines in the media, usually as a violent reaction to occurrences of police brutality, or in the context of broader political protest and movement mobilizations as, for example, in demonstrations turning violent or movements applying both violent and non-violent forms of action as given in the context of the “Nuit Débout” protests directed against the labour market reforms 2016 in France. However, all too often the notion of “riots” is used in a seemingly self-evident way, leaving more questions than answers. While there have arguably been new developments in conceptualizing and studying riots in recent scientific publications, this critical observation still holds true not only for discourses on riots in the mass media, but also for many scientific contributions dealing with riots in one way or the other.

Apart from describing clashes with the police, sometimes involving attacks on private or public property, looting or arson, there is no shared definition of the term “riots”, nor is there an agreement on how to study riots, their effects concerning social change or processes of political subjectivation. With its focus on durable organizational frameworks and long-lasting processes of mobilization, the research on social movements often excludes the seemingly spontaneous, unorganized and violent forms of action. The fact that rioters may not always articulate their demands in conventional ways, like offering messages and claims on signs and leaflets, seems to further interfere with their inclusion into Social Movement Studies. On the other hand, when riots are addressed through the lens of collective violence, they are often dealt with as one form of violent group behavior among others, thereby disregarding the specific motivational and structural aspects regularly involved in the emergence of riots. Therefore, both Social Movement Studies as well as research on (collective) violence often still exclude riots as a subject of research, or they tend to describe riots as somehow apolitical phenomena. Even when social inequality is acknowledged as a causal factor, studies often describe riots as a fatalistic reaction to social circumstances and living conditions, thus failing to recognize rioters as political subjects and the processes of political subjectivation involved.

Following up on the Riot-Workshop series of the Arbeitskreis Riot (AK Riot) at the Institut für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung (ipb) in Berlin, we are pleased to invite you to the 6th workshop as part of the international two-day conference “Riots. Violence as politics?”.

We want to discuss with you riots as a concept and phenomenon and therefore give room for presentations of your research regarding riots. We would like to invite you to send us a short proposal for a presentation on the following (or related) questions:

The pros and cons of the term “riot”
The term “riot” contains the terminological danger of unifying social phenomena that differ in their forms, contents and backgrounds. Against this backdrop, the term “riot” can be put into question: is the term as such scientifically capable of grasping forms of protest that are outside established forms of political articulation? Or would it be more reasonable to abandon the notion of “riots” and adopt other terminological concepts such as “collective violence”? For example, it could be argued that reading riots as a form of collective violence refers to a comparably low common denominator of different social phenomena, but avoids transgressing historical and contextual specificities and differences.

Riots and violence
What is the role of violence in riots? How can we understand different forms of violence in relation to riots? How can violence be conceptualized as a form of action? Can violence in the context of riots be understood as a means of communication? What role do violent actions play for the representation of riots in the public discourse?

Riots and political subjectivation
Why do people participate in riots? Are riots to be understood as a rejection of representational forms of political involvement? Are riots even political at all? What kind of political subjectivity do riots presuppose? How do they affect or constitute processes of political subjectivation?

Riots and social movements
How can we understand and conceptualize the relation between social movements and riots? How can riots be fruitfully included in Social Movement Studies? Can riots be a starting point for the formation of more organized and lasting collective actors? How do social movement organizations position themselves in relation to riots and other forms of violent action?

We warmly welcome presentations of your research projects, bachelor or master theses, PhD chapters or proposals, article drafts or other scientific work in progress. If you want to present and discuss your work and ideas, please submit your proposal (1-2 pages) to riot_workshop(at) until 15 March 2017. The workshop as well as the conference will be held in English, so both your proposal or draft paper as well as the presentation should be in English. In order to have enough time to discuss all contributions, your presentation should not exceed 20 minutes.

If you would like to participate without holding a presentation, please let us also know until 31 March 2017. In case you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Janna Frenzel, Philippe Greif, Fabian Klein and Sarah Uhlmann
(Organizational team / AK Riots )

In cooperation with
Institut für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung (ipb), Berlin
Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft (ZTG), TU Berlin

Funded by
Hans Böckler Stiftung

Download: Call as pdf document


Panel Discussion: Protests, Riots and Political Violence

Time: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, at 4 p.m.,

Place: Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences, Luisenstr. 56, 10115 Berlin, Room 144

Do we experience a new century of protest and violent unrest? This panel discussion will inquire why people take to the streets and why they engage in riots or political violence. We will discuss differences in national settings, the role of the Internet and the new media and the question how mobilization and political violence can spread over a country.


  • Randall Collins, Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and former president of the American Sociological Association
  • Debra Minkoff, Professor and Chair of Barnard College, Department of Sociology, Columbia University and Faculty Fellow of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University
  • Dieter Rucht, Head of the completed Research Group Civil Society, Citizenship and Political Mobilization at the Social Science Center (WZB) Berlin and former Honorary Professor of Sociology at the Free University of Berlin


Klaus Eder, Professor of Sociology, Humboldt University of Berlin, former director of the Berlin
Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS)

The panel discussion is followed by a reception.

The event is organized by the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS). For more information please contact: anne.nassauer(at) Please register with Anne Nassauer via anne.nassauer(at) until Thursday, January 31st.

Invitation as pdf file

International Journal on Conflict and Violence, Vol. 6 No. 1, Focus on Radicalization and De-Radicalization guest edited by Donatella Della Porta (EUI) and Gary LaFree (START, University of Maryland)


Donatella Della Porta and Gary LaFree: Guest Editorial: Processes of Radicalization and De-Radicalization
Abstract | Full article

Pénélope Larzillière: Political Commitment under an Authoritarian Regime: Professional Associations and the Islamist Movement as Alternative Arenas in
Abstract | Full article

Felix Heiduk: Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Radical Islam in Post-Suharto Indonesia
Abstract | Full article

Bill Kissane: Electing Not to Fight: Elections as a Mechanism of Deradicalisation after the Irish Civil War 1922–1938
Abstract | Full article

Hank Johnston: State Violence and Oppositional Protest in High-Capacity Authoritarian Regimes
Abstract | Full article

Christian Davenport and Cyanne Loyle: The States Must Be Crazy: Dissent and the Puzzle of Repressive Persistence
Abstract | Full article

Véronique Dudouet: Intra-Party Dynamics and the Political Transformation of Non-State Armed Groups
Abstract | Full article

Lasse Lindekilde: Neo-liberal Governing of “Radicals”: Danish Radicalization Prevention Policies and Potential Iatrogenic Effects
Abstract | Full article

Legitimationen politischer Gewalt II, Bielefeld 16.-17.12.2010

Veranstalter: Freia Anders, Christoph Gusy, Peter Imbusch, Universität Bielefeld/SFB 584: Das Politische als Kommunikationsraum in der Geschichte, Bielefeld

Bericht von: Tobias Kaiser, Kommission für Geschichte des Parlamentarismus und der politischen Parteien (KGParl), Berlin

„Gewalt ist einer der schillerndsten und zugleich schwierigsten Begriffe der Sozialwissenschaften.“ [1] Gewalt wird unter den verschiedensten Fragestellungen, aus den Perspektiven unterschiedlicher Disziplinen und mit differenzierten Methoden untersucht. Auch der an der Universität Bielefeld angesiedelte Sonderforschungsbereich 584 „Das Politische als Kommunikationsraum in der Geschichte“ widmet sich seit einigen Jahren dem Thema. [2] In den Bielefelder konzeptionellen Überlegungen wird Gewalt als ein Mittel und mögliches Medium politischer Kommunikation verstanden. Es geht also darum, Gewalt nicht als das Ende von Kommunikationsprozessen, sondern als ein komplexeres, Kommunikation herausforderndes Phänomen zu erkennen.

Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

Legitimationen politischer Gewalt II, 16.12.2010-17.12.2010, Internationales Begegnungszentrum (IBZ) der Universität Bielefeld

Die Tagung „Legitimationen politischer Gewalt II“ knüpft an eine gleichnamige Tagung an, die im Oktober 2009 an der Universität Bielefeld stattfand. Sie ging von zwei Grundannahmen aus: Gesellschaftliche Konflikte sind ein ubiquitärer Bestandteil menschlicher Gesellschaften und politische Gewalt ist ein periodisch wiederkehrendes Phänomen. Politische Gewalt – einerseits ausgeübt von Individuen, Gruppen oder sozialen Bewegungen, andererseits aber auch von staatlichen Institutionen – bedarf zumeist der Legitimation, zumindest kommt sie selten ohne Legitimationsstrategien aus. Es wurde danach gefragt, wie solche Legitimierungen von Gewalt aussehen, welche Legitimationsmuster differenziert werden können und ob gegebenenfalls Zusammenhänge zwischen bestimmten Gewaltformen und einzelnen Legitimationsmustern bestehen. Die kommende Tagung will diese Fragen aufgreifen und dabei den Fokus stärker auf das Verhältnis von Legalität und Legitimität legen. Empirisch soll insbesondere das Verhältnis von Staatsgewalt und sozialen Protestbewegungen im Mittelpunkt stehen.

Tagungsprogramm und andere Details bei H-Soz-Kult

Florian Hessdörfer, Andrea Pabst und Peter Ullrich (Hrsg.): Prevent and Tame. Protest under (Self)Control. Berlin: Dietz 2010

The common dualistic approach to social movements tends to see power and resistance as separate and independent antagonists. The contributors to this book aim to transcend that approach, arguing that to adequately analyze ongoing struggles, it is also critically important to trace the constitutive interconnectedness between social movements and power. This is the aim of the title “Prevent and Tame”: emergent strategies to prevent and tame protest—whether they are undertaken by the state or by factions within the movements themselves—have given rise to new kinds of social relations and regulations that call for a new approach to research on social movements and protest.

Inspired by Foucault and others, this book offers theoretical and empirical investigation into the implications that governmentality studies and subjectivation perspectives may have for a deeper understanding of the dynamics in the relationship between power and movements. The articles reflect on the effects of current neo-liberal or neo-social transformations on social movement practice, including the impact of surveillance, the criminalization and stigmatization of protest, and how these can lead movements to engage in self-taming behavior amongst themselves.

Taken as a whole, this book suggests that to take the struggles of social movements seriously, requires to acknowledge the complexity of the power dynamics in which they are involved. In so doing, the authors‘ aim is not to tame protest by over-amplifying its apparent obstacles, but to prevent its energy from being pointlessly wasted or misdirected (i.e. by being spent in the wrong places, in false conflicts, or even in fighting the clouds they cast themselves).

Includes contributions by Stephen Gill, Peter Ullrich, Florian Heßdörfer, Andrej Holm, Anne Roth, Marco Tullney, Michael Shane Boyle, Darcy K. Leach, Sebastian Haunss and Nick Montgomery

Details auf der Seite der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, auf der das Buch auch als pdf verfügbar ist.

Call for Papers: Conference “Processes of Radicalization and Deradicalization”, Venue: Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (ZIF), University of Bielefeld, Germany, 6-8 April 2011

The International Journal of Conflict and Violence (IJCV), in cooperation with the Working Group “Orders of Violence” in the German Association for Political Science (DVPW), announces a call for papers for an international conference on radicalization and deradicalization. We invite contributions from distinguished scholars and younger scientists from various disciplines, including sociology, political science, anthropology, psychology, history, international relations, and area studies. The conference aims at collecting and discussing research on the processes of radicalization and deradicalization, focusing in particular on the following topics:

  1. radicalization in repressive settings, such as authoritarian regimes, camps, and prisons;
  2. state institutions (liberal or not) as radicalizing/deradicalizing entities;
  3. historical periods of transnational diffusion of radicalization/deradicalization (including the spread of repertoires of action, organizational forms, and ideas);
  4. the legitimacy of radicalization and deradicalization (vis-à-vis constituencies, third parties, etc);
  5. the effects of intra-organizational dynamics on deradicalization;
  6. the ‘intended’ and/or ‘unintended’ outcomes of radicalization/deradicalization.

Details im vollständigen CfP

dradio Wissen: „Im Ausnahmezustand“ (Dieter Rucht)

Wiener Zeitung: „Berlin’s Burning“ (Dieter Rucht)

rbb: „Sprüche, Steine, Scherben – Ist der Senat machtlos gegen Mai-Randale?“ (Dieter Rucht)

HNA: „Das ist Anarchie mit Ansage“ (Simon Teune)

Titelbild: Performance von Pussy Riot auf dem Roten Platz (Foto: Pussy Riot Blog)

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