School Research Seminar - Structural to personal: exploring the layers and shapes of social movements

We are delighted to welcome Claudia Coveney and Dorota Kordecka to deliver the School Research Seminar.

Event abstract

What makes a social movement successful? What connects activists to social movements? How do emergent structures impact feelings of solidarity within a movement?  Questions of structure and agency are often raised in relation to social movements and their organisation. In this seminar, Dorota Kordecka and Claudia Coveney will explore the personal aspects of movement membership. This focus on social movements allows an examination of organizational dynamics as processes affecting the structure of movements through the lens of identities construction.    A subjective perspective on the organizational structure of Extinction Rebellion makes up an important part of the research, as a movement practicing radical democracy, non-violent protest and dispersed grassroots activism. In this kind of activism, elements like personal attributes, interactions, and a shared discourse are decisive for everyday resistance (Taylor and Raeburn 1995). 

 In contrast, we look at a social movement organisation from the European disabled people’s movement with a determined hierarchy and permanent membership, embedded rules and procedures. This institutionalised organisation works closely with state officials as well as civil society. Relations between branches of the organisation, and the binary of secretariat/membership could be described as more ‘traditionally structured’. Accountability and democratic function are two key themes addressed here. 

Distinguishing between different types of organisation and structure, the speakers will discuss examples from the current range of social movement mobilization. They will use this seminar to discuss work in progress. Each of them uses the concept of thick & thin diffusion (Mattoni & Della Porta, 2014) to explore respective research foci - the dynamism of relations, autonomy and inclusiveness within the structure, participatory democracy rules, communication and relationships, are a part of this fluid/rigid, thick/thin division.

Speaker biographies

This seminar will be delivered by two members of the School’s PGR community.

Dorota Kordecka:  I’ve completed my Master's Degree in Poland at the University of Szczecin in 2005 in the specialization of European Identity. In the UK, I was in employment in the sector of community wellbeing services for the last 10 years. My interest in the research is new models of democracy and social justice.

Claudia Coveney: I undertook my Masters in 2017, at Erasmus University Rotterdam, specialising in the study of policy networks and the changing nature of public decision-making. As ‘traditional’ government structures break down or fade into the background, new actors are participating in these processes – my primary interests lie in the consequences of these changes, and the opportunities they bring for civil society groups. Currently I am undertaking a PhD in the Centre for Disability Studies. My research is looking at the ways in which disabled people’s organisations interact with government bodies at the European level using their collective voice, and which campaign strategies have led to the successful representation of that voice in resultant policy.

Event joining details

The event will be held on Zoom, access the meeting via the link and joining details below:

Meeting ID: 864 6392 7991
Passcode: M1T*2c

No booking required.


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