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Work group 3 – The transformation of collective mobilizations in Europe

Coordinators:  Magdalena Hadjiisky and Wiebke Keim

Permanent members: Karim Fertikh (MCF), Magdalena Hadjiisky (MCF), Jean-François Havard (MCF), Jean-Philippe Heurtin (PR), Wiebke Keim (CR CNRS), Anne-Sophie Lamine (PR), Valérie Lozac’h (MCF HDR), Romuald Normand (PR), Virginie Roiron (MCF)

Work group 3 examines new mobilization patterns in an innovative fashion, bringing together scholars of law, political science, sociology, history and ethnology. Very few sociological and legal studies on the uses of law have been underpinned by a comparative and European approach, even though the circulation of actors, techniques and repertoires of action has resulted in profound transformations in collective action.

While until the mid 1990s the “crisis of critique” was characterized by a decreasing number of vocations for activism, politics and union membership, a widespread sentiment of powerlessness among ordinary citizens and correlatively a retreat to the private sphere, collective protest has experienced a resurgence since the mid 1990s. More recently, there have been waves of mass protest and major demonstrations in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece. The forms of protest have arguably changed. Until the 1980s, collective mobilizations took place mainly at the national level. Since then, the economic, social and then financial crisis has resulted in the reconfiguration of collective action forms, with greater emphasis on international arenas and a more diversified repertoires of action – from traditional types of protest, such as the worker’s movements, characterized by strength in numbers, to the more expert forms of intervention in scientific and legal arenas.

European construction and the transfer of responsibility for a number of public problems to the EU level have contributed to the reconfiguration of public space of collective action. Centrifugal and centripetal forces appear to coexist: the European space favors the dispersion and the multiplication of actors and lines of action, as well as tendencies toward the recentering and the circulation of the same actors between national normative spaces, between the national and the European space, and between the various component parts of the European and international spaces. This circulation can be observed for politicians, trade unionists and members of associations, but among legal professionals or other holders of specialized knowledge. The increasing complexity of norms and the specialization of the actors also contributes to this redeployment of mobilization of resources. Actors choose to focus on specific themes, narrow down – and professionalize – the scope of their activities – be it protest, the diffusion of certain forms of knowledge or intentional conceptions or legal action.

The internationalization – and more particularly the Europeanization – of collective mobilizations does not only indicate the increasing importance of transnational networks involved in shaping “European public opinion” (and to a lesser extent, an international one) exemplified by the European demonstrations against the war in Iraq. It also points to the ongoing search for spokespersons and “respondents” to replace increasingly helpless national governments in making the voices of protesters heard and “acting” in their name to exert influence on increasingly international actors. The increasingly permeable boundaries between different forms of political mobilization and the growing recourse to expertise and legal action have led to the importation of managerial techniques in the political game and in public policy. These new developments have given largely original and unprecedented contours to the “European protest society”.


Research contracts in progress:

  • Construction et circulation des savoirs "experts" sur l'action publique dans l'espace européen : le rôle des organisations internationales - Programme Misha (2017-2019)
    Magdalena HADJIISKY
  • Diversité de l'internet musulman en France. Valorisation identitaire ou fabrication de commun ? / Ministère de l'intérieur (2018-2019)
    Responsable scientifique : Anne-Sophie LAMINE
  • Savoirs experts et Politique. Les sciences sociales au service de la démocratie libérale depuis 1945 (SaPol)
    Responsables : Emmanuel DROIT (DynamE) et Valérie LOZAC'H (Sage)

Research contracts completed:

  • "Genèse et pratiques de la bureaucratie" , Conseil Scientifique de l'Université de Strasbourg
    Jean-Philippe HEURTIN
  • "Entre logique d’assistance et de surveillance : les politiques religieuses de l’Etat français depuis 1905" , Programme MISHA
    Solenne JOUANNEAU
  • "Réformer l’Etat par le marché. L’« économisation » du secteur public dans l’Europe postcommuniste", Programme MISHA
    Valérie LOZAC'H