Cultural Approaches to Collective Action
Periodo di svolgimento
Info sul corso
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"
Collective action, like any other social process, takes place in a culturally structured environment. Actors’ perceptions and behaviours are partially shaped by memories of the past, socially shared understandings of reality, habitus, expectations, linguistic and cognitive mechanisms, and so on. Drawing on the literature on social movements (and in particular on the role of culture, symbols, narratives, stories, collective identites), on the sociology of culture and on cultural studies, the course will analyse these issues, addressing the different cultural approaches to the study of collective action and providing both readings that draw on this multidisciplinary tradition and examples rooted in contemporary 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 culture and collective action. Every session will be introduced by the lecturer (or by a guest 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, 2024.
1) Conceptualising culture in social movement studies
Thursday April 4th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
In our first session, we will quickly introduce the background of the turn towards cultural aspects in the study of collective action and its epistemological and methodological implications.
della Porta, D. and Diani, M. (2006) Social Movements: An Introduction. London: Blackwell, Chapter 3.
Jasper, J.M. (2007) Cultural Approaches in the Sociology of Social Movements. In: Klandermans, B. and Roggeband, C. (eds.) Handbook of Social Movements Across Disciplines. London: Springer, pp.59-109.
Jasper, J.M. and Polletta, F. (2019) The Cultural Context of Social Movements. In: Snow, D.A., Kriesi, H., Soule, S.A. and McCammon, H.J. (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. London: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 63-78.
Polletta, F. (2008). Culture and movements. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,619(1), 78–96.
2) Ourselves and the public: the process of collective identity
Thursday April 11th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
In our second session, we will mainly focus on the concept of collective identity in the study of collective action.
Flesher Fominaya, C. (2019) Collective Identity in Social Movements: Assessing the Limits of a Theoretical Framework. In: Snow, D.A., Kriesi, H., Soule, S.A. and McCammon, H.J. (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. London: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 429-446.
Jasper, J.M., Tramontano, M. and McGarry, A. (2015) Scholarly Research on Collective Identities. In: Jasper, J.M. and McGarry, A. (eds.) The Identity Dilemma. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, pp. 18-44.
Melucci, A. (1989) Nomads of the present: Social movements and individual needs in contemporary society. London: Hutchinson Radius, Chapter 3.
Melucci, A. (1995) The Process of Collective Identity. In: Johnston, H. and Klandermans, B. (eds.) Social Movements and Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 41-63.
Taylor, V., and Whittier, N.E. (1992) Collective identity in social movement communities: Lesbian feminist mobilization. In: Morris, A., and Mueller, C. (eds.) Frontiers of Social Movement Theory. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
3) Discourse, meaning and knowledge
Thursday April 18th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
In our third session, we will address both the role of public discourse as a context in which collective action takes places and the role of social movements as knowledge producers.
Cox, L. and Flesher Fominaya, C. (2009) Movement knowledge: what do we know, how do we create knowledge and what do we do with it? Interface: a journal for and about social movements 1(1), pp. 1-20.
della Porta, D. and Pavan, E. (2017) Repertoires of knowledge practices: social movements in times of crisis. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management 12(4).
Gamson, W. (1988) Political Discourse and Collective Action. In: B. Klandermans, B., Kriesi H. and Tarrow S. (eds.) From Structure to Action: Comparing Social Movement Research Across Cultures, International Social Movement Research. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, pp. 219-244
Gamson, W.A. and Modigliani, A. (1989) Media discourse and public opinion of nuclear power: A constructionist approach. American Journal of Sociology 95(1), pp. 1–37.
Treré, E. and Mattoni, A. (2016). Media ecologies and protest movements: main perspectives and key lessons. Information, Communication & Society 19(3), pp. 290-306.
4) Movement culture: performance, art, habitus
Monday, April 22nd, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-4pm
In our fourth session, we will focus on movements’ cultural repertoires, reviewing how the repertoire of action is culturally structured, ritualised and routinised and how social movements use art and performance.
Flesher Fominaya, C. (2014) Movement Culture as Habit(us): Resistance to Change in the Routinized Practices of Resistance. In: Baumgarten, B., Daphi, P. and Ullrich, P. (eds.) Conceptualizing Culture inSocial Movement Research. London: Palgrave, pp.186-205.
Juris, J.S. (2014) Embodying Protest: Culture and Performance within Social Movements. In: Baumgarten, B., Daphi, P. and Ullrich, P. (eds.) Conceptualizing Culture inSocial Movement Research. London: Palgrave, pp.227-250.
Mathieu, L. (2019) Art and Social Movements. In: Snow, D.A., Kriesi, H., Soule, S.A. and McCammon, H.J. (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. London: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 354-368.
5) Narrative and memory
Thursday May 2nd, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
In our fifth session we will analyse the role of storytelling in collective action and focus in particular on stories related to the past, addressing the relationship between social movements and collective memories.
Daphi, P. and Zamponi, L. (2019) Exploring the Movement-Memory Nexus: Insights and Ways Forward. Mobilization 24(4), pp. 399-417
Polletta, F. (1998) Contending Stories: Narrative in Social Movements. Qualitative Sociology 21, pp.419-446
Zamponi, L. (2018) Social Movements, Memory and Media. Narrative in Action in the Italian and Spanish Student Movements. London: Palgrave, Chapter 1.
6) Ideology and ideologies / Cultural outcomes
Thursday May 9th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
Our fifth session will also be double: the first part will be dedicated to an often overlooked component of collective action: ideology. How do worldviews and political understandings of reality inform social mobilisation? The second part will address culture as a consequence of collective action: how do movements shape cultural change?
Goldstone, J.A. (1991) Ideology, cultural frameworks, and the process of revolution. Theory and Society 20, pp. 405–453.
Oliver, P. and Johnston, H. (2000) What a Good Idea! Ideologies and Frames in Social Movement Research. Mobilization 5(1): 37-54.
Sewell, W.H., Jr (1985) Ideologies and social revolutions: Reflections on the French case. The Journal of Modern History 57, pp. 57–85.
Amenta, E. and Polletta, F. (2019) The Cultural Impacts of Social Movements. Annual Review of Sociology 45, pp. 279-299.
Van Dyke, N. and Taylor, V. (2019) The Culture Outcomes of Social Movements. In: Snow, D.A., Kriesi, H., Soule, S.A. and McCammon, H.J. (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. London: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 482-498.
7) Whose culture? Subcultures, countercultures and subaltern cultures
Thursday May 16th, 2024, Simone del Pollaiolo room, 2pm-5pm
In our last session we will challenge a monolithical understanding of culture, focusing on cultures that are alternative to the dominant one in a certain context.
Farthing, L. and Kohl, B. (2013) Mobilizing Memory: Bolivia’s Enduring Social Movements. Social Movement Studies 12(4), pp. 361–76.
Haenfler, R. (2006) Straight Edge: Clean Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, Chapter 1.
Martin, G. (2002) Conceptualizing Cultural Politics in Subcultural and Social Movement Studies. Social Movement Studies 1(1), pp.73-88.
Thompson, E.P. (1971) The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century. Past and Present 50, pp. 76-136
This syllabus may be subjected to changes until the beginning of the course. This version was uploaded on September 30th, 2023.
By the end of the seminar, students will have developed an introductory but comprehensive critical understanding of the field of social movement studies, with a particular focus on the relationship between culture and collective action.