Instrumental and Distinctive Boundary Work between Activism and Politics
Charles University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Czech Republic
In my contribution, I focus on the blurred boundary between activism and institutionalized politics. Drawing on Michele Lamont's concept of symbolic boundaries, I tackle the question how activists relate themselves to the realm of politics. Through an analysis of 40 interviews with Czech activists, I have recognized two ideal types of activism (which likened Buechler's typology of social movements teories). The first one is political activism, which is based on a broad definition of politics. I will show that within this category, activists lay symbolic boundaries which are based on ideological and thematic notions. They thematise politicians as allies or rivals according to the current strategies, so their boundary work is rather instrumental and they are willing to cross the boundary into politics, if it is needed. The second kind of activism, cultural activism, is based on identity politics, which is distinctly different from institutional politics. Unlike the political activists, these activists lay bright boundaries with politics, in order to distinguish themselves from instrumental acting and construct their own independent identity as activists. I argue that the relationship of activists to politics can be used as an indicator of their conception of activism, including their repertoires of action.
Re-defining Power Structures in Spanish Higher Education: The case of the Solidarity Network of Victims of Gender Violence in Universities
University Rovira i Virgili, Spain
While social movement theory has extensively explored the role of social movements in changing society, the importance and potential of these movements in the university context and for the overcoming of gender violence has been under researched. Neither social movement theory nor research on gender violence in academia has placed special attention on this aspect. However, some research acknowledges that specific legal changes have resulted from pressure of civil society, such as the Cleary Act in the US (McMahon, 2008). This paper presents the contribution of the Solidarity Network of Victims of Gender Violence in Universities, a specific movement that has emerged to address the problem of gender violence in Spanish universities tackling the silencing of the issue and the power structures making this possible. Qualitative data was collected using the communicative methodology, such as daily life stories and in-depth interviews with institutional representatives, faculty and students of five Spanish universities. The network has greatly contributed to raising awareness on this issue in Spain, which has already been highlighted by the pioneer research on gender violence in Spanish academia (Valls, 2005-2008) with 62% of students knowing about or having experienced situations of gender violence in universities. The paper contributes valuable knowledge on the potential of social movements theory to tackling the silenced reality of the university context, by analyzing how a specific network managed to challenge power structures and contribute to approaching the ideal of more humane universities at the service of society.
RELIGIOUS ACTION AND THE FIGHT FOR LGBT CITIZENSHIP IN BRAZIL DURING THE PROCESSING OF LAW PROJECT 122/2006
Universidade de Brasília, Brazil
The present research is based on the analysis of the speeches of Brazilian senators on Bill 122/2006, which intends to criminalize homophobic conduct in Brazil. The project became known for the polarization it generated among Christian parliamentarians and political minorities, highlighting a greater visibility of both the LGBT movement and religious performance. The latter, even, underwent an important reformulation after the bill was approved in the Chamber of Deputies, strengthening its performance and articulation inside and outside the parliament. The PLC122 / 2006 was chosen in this research as representative to analyze if the religious performance in the National Congress limits the LGBT citizenship.
The main argument defended in the work is that in Brazil, the struggle for the extension of citizenship for the LGBT population is an obstacle in the work of parliamentarians identified with the evangelical group within the National Congress. This limit is greater and decisive in the face of the precarious construction of the Brazilian secular state that, at the moment, can not define minimum limits for religious activity, which may prevent the restriction of citizenship of political minorities.
Young Women and Active Citizenship in Romania: understanding the role of family in shaping participatory practices
Babes Bolyai University, Romania
The beginning of 2017 has been marked, in Romania, by notable street protests against a set of controversial measures initiated by the government. In fact, for the past several years, a number of political developments occasioned the vocal mobilization of young people, which encouraged confidence in the emergence of a generation of assertive and civically aware youth. Certainly, protests are solely one of the many forms of political participation, and, taken alone, could only speak for the unconventional side of civic activism. At the same time, youth mobilization questions the deeply engrained idea that young people are disconnected from politics and community, estranged from public matters and detached from political and civic participation. In addition, it revives the interest in how young people understand and practice citizenship, and, importantly, in how they actually develop their visions on what active citizenship means and how it ought to be practiced. Against this background, the focus of this paper is on the role of family, as an agent of political socialization, in shaping young people’s attitudes towards their public role as citizens. Moreover, the specific interest is directed towards young women and their approaches on citizenship, in a society (and new democracy) that preserves substantial patriarchal features. Relying on interview data, I ask how young women accommodate, in their construction of citizenship norms and practice, possibly incongruent influences from parents (socialized in an undemocratic and restrictive political environment) and inputs from other sources of socialization that shape participatory attitudes and behavior.