Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN11_03a: Mobilisation, Resistance and Emotion
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Yvonne Albrecht, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Location: BS.3.26
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


The Strategic Use of Emotions in Recruitment Strategies of Armed Groups: The Case of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

Larissa Daria Meier

Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy

What kind of emotions do armed groups use to recruit members and how do they use them? In this paper, I show that armed groups use “emotion work” (Hochschild 1979) as a part of their strategy to mobilize fighters. They try to appeal not only to people`s self-interest or reason but to their values and normative judgements too, and they do so by evoking emotions.

Once confronted with falling numbers of volunteers, the LTTE stepped up an extensive recruitment campaign targeting young Tamils living in the territory they controlled. I use data from 45 interviews with former members of the LTTE and civilians who have been living in the warzones to show that emotions were a central element of this recruitment strategy.

In order to analyse the role of emotions in recruitment, I build on research on mobilization and emotion in social movement and contentious politics and propose an analytical framework linking different types of collective action frames with different emotions they provoke and the mechanisms through which they facilitate recruitment. I find that the LTTE used interpretative frames (identification of common grievances and responsible actors) to create resentment. This emotional response together with the cognitive effects of the frames increase polarization among social groups – an important component of mobilization into militancy. Additionally, the LTTE used motivational frames in order to provoke anger and shame. These emotions increase the salience of frames to targets of mobilization. People feel personally affected and develop a sense of an inner emotional and moral obligation to take action and to redress (perceived) grievances.

Storytelling and Emotional Engagement in Social Communication: the Italian Donation Campaigns.

Gea Ducci

University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy

The paper offers reflections on how non-profit and public sector organizations, in the network society, make communication campaigns aimed at sensitizing the population on socially relevant issues, such as health and well-being, using storytelling and communicative registers that arouse emotions in the publics, online and offline. The social communication has a function of symbolic integration in the society and can arouse different emotions: from a friendly, shameful or reassuring, even ironic communication in which the theme (or a problem) is represented in its positive sense, to a communication that leverages feelings of fear (fear arousing appeal), until the tendency to strike terror.

In this framework, the paper illustrates a research, which aimed to analyze the communicative campaigns on the "donation" which have been conducted in Italy over the last five years, to understand some trends and principal characteristics. In particular, this study was intended to try to understand what communication strategies are adopted by non-profit organizations and public organizations and, above all, what kind of storytelling is choosed in recent years to encourage the emotional engagement of the public to whom the communication activities are oriented. The research is quantitative and qualitative, and is divided into two phases as follows:

- First phase: online detecting of the campaign on the donation of blood, organs, cells and tissues, promoted in the last five years in Italy by public institutions (State-Ministry of Health, Regions, Provinces, Municipalities, Health and Hospital Organizations ) and by non-profit organizations.

- Second phase: qualitative analysis of the Italian campaigns detected in the first phase of the research, taking into consideration the most representative cases of the Italian panorama.

Emotions and Collective Action: Managing Fear in Recent Romanian Social Movements

George Ionut Simion

University of Bucharest, Romania

The protests that took place in Romania in early 2017 represent the birth of the most vivid social movement in my country after the 1989 Revolution, which ended a period of almost 50 years of communism.

Until February 2017, Romanian social movements consisted in shy protests of different social groups in order to obtain some benefits, mostly wage increases. Starting with 2017, the way how Romanians perceive their social reality and their social involvement radically changed. Which are the explanations for these social changes?

In my paper, I aim to explain the recent social movements in Romania through the sociological lens of emotions, particularly the fear which can be used as a trigger to boost participation. My choice of fear as a main filter to analyze social movements is not random. The magnitude of the 2017 events was compared to what happened in 1989. Back then, it was a reactive fear. Nowadays, it seems to be a proactive fear. The common aspects between the two events are collective action and hope for a better future.

Ordinary Appropriations Of Politics Through Jokes. Germany 1938-1944.

Alexandra Oeser

Université Paris Nanterre, France

The Nazi past is a serious subject, a theme you “cannot joke about”. Nevertheless people do joke about Nazism. An easy way to discredit this behavior is to say that these jokes are extreme right wing and/or anti-Semitic (Dundes/Hauschild, 1983). On the other hand, the laughter between 1933 and 1945 has often been qualified as resistance (Gamm 1979; Hermes 1946, Müller 2009). This view is now being challenged, some authors claiming that jokes where “propaganda by distraction” (Delporte 1993). This proposal reformulates questions on the relation between citizens and the state, by using a sociology of emotions applied to jokes on nazism. We want to understand unruly uses of humor as well as “soft” state repression in a twofold approach, from above and below.

This paper is based upon 250 court procedures found in the Bundesarchiv mentioning jokes. They not only exhaustively list the jokes, but also the people who were present and laughed as well as those who denounced them to Nazi institutions. We learn about the context (public or private, work or home, with family or friends or anonymous persons). The archives also contain CV’s of those who told the jokes, which gives us access to sociological data such as gender, profession, marital status, salary, and the number of children. On the other hand, these archives give us access to different Nazi institutions that frame and sanction the public wit: the police (who writes a first report), the public prosecutor (who writes the accusation), and the judges (who write the verdict)