Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
RN25_10b: The interaction and structure of social movement organizations
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Mattias Wahlström, University of Gothenburg
Location: GM.331
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Policy Professionals In Civil Society: Power on the Members' Mandate?

Joanna Mellquist

Södertörn University, Sweden

This article examines the role of policy professionals in civil society organizations. Scholars have noticed a change in the organizational structure of civil society: more and more organizations organize fewer members (Amnå, 2008., Ahrne & Papakostas, 2014., Harding, 2012). At the same time, the organizations have become more professionalized, and the amount of employed staff of these organizations is growing, leading to an increasing gap between those who lead and those who follow (Amnå, 2008). The professionalization and development of highly skilled expertise at national civil society level raises questions about the political power of these organizations. Who are formulating the organizations’ goals and how is political power organized in civil society? This article theorizes policy professionals in relation to members' participation, legitimacy and policy impact. When and how are the members part of formulating the organization’s policy? What are the relations between policy professionals and the member-groups they serve? Drawing from thirty ethnographic interviews and shadowing in Swedish civil society organizations this article investigates member organizations’ policy impact on formulating processes. This research brings together the literature of political elites, policy professionals and the professionalization of civil society. From the ethnographical fieldwork, focused on the incentives, norms and attitudes that policy professionals promote in civil society, policy professionals’ roles have been explored. This article furthermore points towards a growing tension between the member-based organizations and their growing professional elite.

Organizing the Polish and Swedish Women's Movements

Eva Karlberg

Södertörn University, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE)

When social movement actors want to create collective action they sometimes need to set up organizations, and sometimes these organizations need to cooperate and speak with one voice. The paper analyses two processes (in Poland and Sweden) of creating and maintaining women’s movement associations of organizations with the purpose of becoming national members of the European Women’s Lobby, a Brussels-based NGO lobbying the EU. The analysis shows that the two cases of organizing national-level women’s movements turned out completely differently due to different conditions for the two fields of women’s organizations. However, whereas differences are evident, there are also noticeable similar issues within the two cases which I argue are connected to the process of organizing a social movement in relation to the international level, and in particular to the process of creating meta-organizations (Ahrne & Brunsson 2008) – that is, associations of organizations. Drawing from new perspectives within organization theory which looks beyond formal organization and organization as entity, the paper seeks to contribute with a combined social movement and organizational analysis.

The paper contributes with an understanding of how the EU impacts on social movements and how national-level social movement increasingly need to relate to the international level. The paper aims at showing how, at the same time as social movements are self -emerging in character, collectively forming order through networks and institutions, organization is at the heart of movements. It also contributes to an understanding of the intricacies of having one organization ‘speaking for’ the movement. 

Contemporary Processes of Social Self-Organization in Spain: Movements of the Multitude

Alvaro Malaina

University Complutense of Madrid, Spain

We will study the two most outstanding events of social self-organization in Spain that took place in recent times: the 15-M in Madrid and October 1 in Catalonia. We will present them as a paradigm of social self-organization. As a theoretical framework we will draw on the theory of the multitude by Hardt and Negri and on the theory of complexity by Edgar Morin.

In the case of May 15 2011, in a context of economic crisis and neoliberal adjustment policies and bank rescues, thousands of "outraged" young people occupied the squares in Madrid and other Spanish cities, self-organizing a protest movement, through social networks, regardless of political parties and unions. A structure of “rhizome” (Deleuze and Guattari) was adopted, horizontal and without leaders.

In the case of the October 1 2017, half of the Catalan society self-organized to launch a referendum of self-determination against the recentralizing and neoliberal policies of the Spanish conservative government. In a context of violent police repression, polling stations were occupied, ballot boxes were bought and hidden, and scrutiny was carried out in a self-organized manner.

Both are recent expressions of the complex self-organizing potential of what Hardt and Negri call the multitude, thus transcending their specific location and determined political context and becoming part of a general paradigm of anti-systemic social movements in the era of neoliberal globalization, which operating from "a plane of immanence" (Deleuze) seek to build new subjectivity, more cooperative than competitive, and new social structures more just and democratic.

EU Legacies: A Panel Study Of Czech Social Movements

Katerina Vrablikova

University of Bath, United States of America

Democracies in East Central Europe (ECE) are currently going through a hard test. Unlike at the beginning of the 1990s when democracy was “the only and the best” type of political regime, major political actors – prime ministers, significant political parties, and prominent figures of political life – are now challenging the democratic system of government. Either in the form of “illiberal democracy with strong leadership” (Orban in Hungary) or “effective governance by experts from business” (Babis in the Czech Republic), many ECE countries experience democratic backsliding. What role do various advocacy organizations play in this process and what determines their advocacy strategies? The paper distinguishes between the guardian (civic and voluntary associations as agents that control and oppose the state, typically protest) and governance (advocacy organizations as an integral part of governance, related to policy-formulation types of advocacy) role of social movement organizations. It suggests that variation in the forms of advocacy in the context of democratic backsliding is closely related to advocacy styles that organizations had developed in the past, specifically in the context of Europeanization of civil society and state structures that promoted governance styles of advocacy. Consequently, organizations that were “socialized” into the governance type are less likely to use the guardian strategies. Importantly, this effect is conditioned by the current access to state structures (i.e. the acceptance by the current governments) that allows the organizations to use governance style of strategies. The study uses panel survey data on 150 Czech social movement organizations collected in 2008 and 2018.

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