2020 Special Focus—Globalization and Social Movements: Familiar Patterns, New Constellations?

The last decade saw an intensification of social movement activism across the world. In the Global North, widespread discontent with austerity following the 2008 financial collapse gave rise to the Occupy and Indignados movements. In the Global South, political struggles against neoliberalism have been articulated primarily as protests against its institutional embodiments, especially the World Bank and the IMF and their policies of structural adjustment. Other campaigns mobilized against political oppression (e.g., the Arab Spring), racism (e.g., Black Lives Matter), and sexism (e.g., Me Too). Meanwhile, the Tea Party Movement and now Alt Right have shaped activism on the political right. In some mobilizations, such as Gilets Jaunes in France, left and right-wing influences criss-crossed in often contradictory ways. The fact that all these groups are both manifestations of and responses to various aspects of globalization is nothing new. Earlier mobilizations, such as the global justice movement, epitomized by the Zapatistas in Mexico, also expressed global identities and used the technologies of globalization while challenging the dominant version of the process. As a matter of fact, social movements and international non-governmental organizations worked across borders even in the era when state sovereignty was rarely questioned and politics seemed to make sense almost exclusively in national terms. INGOs, whose number has increased exponentially from a few in the nineteenth century to tens of thousands today, are often viewed as indicators of the state of globalization, expanding rapidly when the global system is on an upward trajectory and declining in significance when globalization is on the defensive. This conference aims to explore those and other manifold and often contradictory relationships between social movements and global processes.

Questions we hope to address include those pertaining to:

• Social movements as global actors

• Ideologies, strategies, and effects of social movements of the left and the right

• Theories of social movements

• The influence of social media on activist practices

• Costs and benefits of social movement institutionalization

• Relations between social movements and political parties

• International non-governmental organizations: natural problem-solving units in a global age or Trojan horses of neoliberalism?

Submit Your Proposal

Use the button below to submit a proposal for review.