Temporalities of Collective Action

Period of duration of course
Course info
Number of course hours
Number of hours of lecturers of reference
Number of hours of supplementary teaching

Type of exam



Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"


 1. Time matters: an introduction

Thursday April 6th, 2023, 2pm-5pm, Simone del Pollaiolo room

In our first session, we will introduce the main debates and issues regarding the relationship between temporalities and collective action.


Braudel, F. (1960) History and the Social Sciences: The Long Duration. American Behavioral Scientist 3(3).

Gillan, K. & Edwards, G. (2020) Time for change, Social Movement Studies, 19:5-6, pp. 501-515.

Lazar, S. (2014). Historical narrative, mundane political time, and revolutionary moments: Coexisting temporalities in the lived experience of social movements. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20(S1), pp. 91–108.

McAdam, D., & Sewell, W. H. (2001). It’s About Time: Temporality in the Study of Social Movements and Revolutions. In R. R. Aminzade, J. A. Goldstone, D. McAdam, E. J. Perry, W. H. Sewell, S. Tarrow, & C. Tilley (Eds.) Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 89-125.

Thompson, E. P. (1967). Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism. Past & Present , 38(1), pp. 56–97.


 2. Transformative events (with Lorenzo Bosi)

Thursday April 13th, 2023, 2pm-5pm, Simone del Pollaiolo room

In our second session, we will discuss the role of events in collective action and their social construction.


Bosi, L. and D. Davis. 2017. “"What is to be done?": Agency and the causation of transformative events in Ireland's 1916 Rising and 1969 Long March” Mobilization 22 (2):223-243.

Sewell, W. H. (1996) Three Temporalities: Towards an Eventful Sociology. In: McDonald, T. J. (ed.) The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 245-280.

Snow, David, and Dana Moss. 2014. “Protest on the Fly: Toward a Theory of Spontaneity in the Dynamics of Protest and Social Movements.” American Sociological Review 79(6): 1122-1143.


3. Lost in the timescape: collective action in temporality and temporality in collective action

Thursday April 20th, 2023, 2pm-5pm, Simone del Pollaiolo room

In our third session, we will address the different temporalities developing in collective action: cycles of protest, continuity and abeyance, cognitive liberation.


Gillan, K. (2020) Temporality in social movement theory: vectors and events in the neoliberal timescape, Social Movement Studies, 19:5-6, pp. 516-536

McAdam, D. (1982) Political Process and the Development of the Black Insurgency. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 48-51, 108-112, 161-163.

Polletta, F. (2006) It Was Like a Fever. Storytelling in Protest and Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Chapter 2.

Tarrow, S. (1994) Power in Movement. Social Movements and Contentious Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Chapter 10.

Taylor, V. (1989). Social movement continuity: The women’s movement in abeyance. American Sociological Review 54(5), pp. 761-775.


4. Time of your life: collective action and biographical trajectories/The future in the present: taking prefigurative politics seriously

Wednesday April 26th, 2023, 10am-1pm, Filippo Strozzi room

In our forth session, we will focus on two different issues: first, we will address the role of biographical trajectories in collective action; then, we will analyse the main aspects related to the concept of prefigurative politics.


Auyero, J. (2004) ‘When Everyday Life, Routine, Politics and Protest Meet. Theory and Society 33(3–4), pp. 417–441.

Fillieule, O., & Neveu, E. (2018). Activists’ Trajectories in Space and Time. In: Fillieule, O., & Neveu, E. (eds.) Activists Forever? Long-Term Impacts of Political Activism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–36.

Jasper, J.M. (1997) The Art of Moral Protest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Chapters 9 and 15.

Luigi Pellizzoni (2020): Prefiguration, subtraction and emancipation, Social Movement Studies [online first].

Luke Yates (2015) Rethinking Prefiguration: Alternatives, Micropolitics and Goals in Social Movements, Social Movement Studies 14(1), pp. 1-21


5. Times of emergency: future and temporality at the verge of climate apocalypse

Thursday May 4th, 2023, 2pm-4pm, Simone del Pollaiolo room

In our fifth session we will address one specific movement, i.e. the recent wave of climate mobilisation, and its particular relationship with temporality, in order to understand how the temporality of emergency shapes collective action and how actors imagine the future.


de Moor, J. (2021) Time and place in climate activism: Three urgency-induced debates. In: Sowers, J., VanDeveer, S.D. and Weinthal, E. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Environmental Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marquardt, J. and Delina, L. L. (2021) Making time, making politics: Problematizing temporality in energy and climate studies. Energy Research & Social Science 76, 102073.

Mische, A. (2014). Measuring futures in action: Projective grammars in the Rio + 20 debates. Theory and Society 43(3), 437–464.

Tavory, I. and Eliasoph, N. (2013) Coordinating Futures: Toward a Theory of Anticipation. American Journal of Sociology 118(4), 908-942

Tavory, I. and Wagner-Pacifici, R. (2022) Climate change as an event. Poetics 93(A), 101600


6. Like it has always been done: rituals, repertoires, innovations/ Continuous present: immediacy and social media time

Thursday May 11th, 2023, 2pm-5pm, Simone del Pollaiolo room

The sixth session will be divided into two parts: in the first, we while discuss the role of habitus, traditional repertoires and tactical innovation in collective action, while the second will be dedicated to the temporalities of social media and their impact on movements.


Bourdieu, P. (1990) The Logic of Practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 52-65.

Tilly, C. (1978) From Mobilization to Revolution. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing, pp. 143-171.

Morris, A. (1986) The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: The Free Press, pp. 188-194.

Barassi, V. (2015) Social media, immediacy and the time for democracy: Critical reflections on social media as ‘temporalizing practices’. In: Dencik, L. & Leistert, O. (eds.) Critical perspectives on social media and protest: Between control and emancipation. London: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 73–88.

Kaun, A. (2017). ‘Our time to act has come’: Desynchronization, social media time and protest movements. Media, Culture & Society 39(4), pp. 469–486.

Keightley E. (2013) From immediacy to intermediacy: The mediation of lived time. Time & Society 22(1), pp. 55-75.


7. The past in the present: memories and legacies

Thursday May 18th, 2023, 2pm-5pm, Simone del Pollaiolo room

In our final session, we will focus on the role of myths, memories and legacies in collective action.


Armstrong, E. A., & Crage, S. M. (2006). Movements and memory: The making of the Stonewall myth. American Sociological Review 71(5), pp. 724–751.

Daphi, P. and Zamponi, L. (2019) Exploring the Movement-Memory Nexus: Insights and Ways Forward. Mobilization 24(4), pp. 399-417.

Zamponi, L. (2018) Social Movements, Memory and Media. Narrative in Action in the Italian and Spanish Student Movements. London: Palgrave, chapters 6-7-8.

Educational aims

Ritual, eventful, exceptional: the conceptualisation and symbolic articulation of time is central in the development and in the study of collective action. Collective action cannot be analysed only at a certain moment in the present and is often understood as constituting sequences, such as in the concepts of “cycle of protest” and “wave of mobilisation”. Social movement studies have been referring for a long time to the fact that social actors engage with time in different ways, such as in the analyses of the ritualistic nature of the repertoire of contention, of the role of events and critical junctures, of latency and abeyance, of the narrative construction of spontaneity, and so on. Furthermore, analyses of the role of time in shaping collective action have been characterising fields like social history or works at the crossroads between history and social science for decades. Memory, rituality, millenarianism: the course aims at analysing these issues, addressing the temporalities of collective action from different points of view and drawing on different literature, providing both readings that draw on this multidisciplinary tradition and examples rooted in contemporary collective action.

Learning goals
By the end of the seminar, students will have developed a comprehensive critical understanding of the temporal dimension of collective action.

The course will have a seminar structure, with weekly discussions on selected readings and the direct relationship with theoretical and empirical research on the issues of temporalities and collective action. Every session will be introduced by the lecturer, followed by an open discussion of the readings. Attendees are required to read the material, present the readings in a critical perspective, and actively participate in the following discussion. References to the attendees’ own research projects are encouraged.

PhD students will be evaluated based on their active participation in class, and the instructor will determine whether they have passed or failed the course. PhD students who opt to write a term paper for this course should consult the instructor in advance and agree on a topic.
Master students will be evaluated based on their active participation in class (50%) and on a final paper of 2000-3000 words on one of the topics covered during the course (50%). The instructor is available for consultation on the topic of the paper and for advice on its structure and content. The final grade will be expressed on a 30-point scale. The paper can be written in English or Italian and must be delivered by June 30th, 2023.