CfP: Bretterblog Series on Movements and Institutions

We are happy to announce a call for papers to the blog series on „Movements and Institutions“ on Bretterblog. The series is edited by the working group „Movements and Institutions“ within the „Institut für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung“ .  The call for papers is open until 30 June 2016.

Series editors: Jan-Philipp Vatthauer, Jannis Grimm and Felix Anderl

‚Movements‘ and ‚institutions‘ take center stage in political science and sociology, as well as in the more specialized sub-discipline of social movement studies. Despite an abundance of publications on their interrelation and interdependence, both terms are still haunted by a lack of thorough definitions. More often than not they work as containers in which different scholars project vastly varying concepts. Often, they have been used as ends of a continuum in social organization; sometimes they are thought to be antagonists.

The working group „Movements and Institutions“ within the „Institut für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung“ was set up precisely to explore the variety of perspectives from which researchers of differing disciplinary backgrounds approach the interaction between movements and institutions. Yet, discussions among members of the working group frequently revolved around basic questions of definition. It became obvious that neither in literature, nor within the working group itself a common understanding of the two terms is to be found. Depending on the theoretical or empirical interests of a researcher, we find narrow or broad categorizations of movements and institutions and thus different perspectives on the meaning and significance of the concepts: Scholars with a background in contentious politics studies have a distinct understanding of movements and institutions as antagonistic entities, and hence differ strongly from researchers interested in political participation who tend to see institutions as open fora into which movements’ individuals and ideas can enter and diffuse. From a more radical deconstructivist perspective, institutions may even be desiderata of movement action or discursive patterns within movements themselves. At another extreme, scholars uniting under the paradigm of politics from below have argued for an understanding of institutions as strongly rooted in and locally reconstructed by society and hence as inherent component of every act of social mobilization. Discussions on the nature and boundaries of the ‘movement’ as the central category for analyzing processes of political contestation and collective action phenomena are equally fragmented.

For the sake of conceptual clarity and analytical precision, this call aims at gathering a variety of views on the two terms and their (non-)interconnectedness. We therefore ask interested researchers to submit short outlines of their ideas and understandings regarding those terms. Those ideas may be located around either one or both terms, and may draw on empirical as well as theoretical considerations. Our goal is not to unify around one specific usage of the terms but to have a better understanding of the reasoning behind specific applications. After reading the series, readers should have a good basis to make up their own minds on how movements and institutions interrelate – and what the concepts mean in the first place. This entails theoretical works on definition, genealogy and function of the concepts, as well as consideration from research practice and political arguments.

Please send us a short pitch of your envisioned contribution (max. 300 words, English language) to this collection via email until June 30, 2016. If selected for the blog series, the final article manuscript should be submitted by the end of the following month. Blog articles (around 1500 words) based on the submitted outlines will first be published on Bretterblog. In a second editing step, we then intend to craft the contributions into a shared and collaborative publication.  

Please direct your pitch to  jj.grimm [@]

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