ISA-RC 47: New Perspectives for 2014-2018

16th Dec 2014 | By and | Category: 2014 (Yokohama), Conferences, ISA World Congress, News & Events

This intellectual project was presented by the new board at the RC 47 General Assembly at the World Congress of Sociology in July 2014. The second part of the document (Publications & meetings) was updated in November 2014.

Table of Contents:

I.   Insightful approaches to social movements
II.  A democratic, accountable, more decentralized and convivial RC
III. Publications
IV. RC 47 Conferences and meetings
V.   Collaborative research

I. Insightful approaches to social movements

Bringing together social scientists from all continents, the ISA Research Committee 47 provides a unique platform to share and develop perspectives on and analyses of current, recent and past social movements around the world, as much the ones that strike mainstream media headlines as those that discreetly transform politics or daily life.

RC 47 was founded with the conviction that the study of social movements provides elements for a better understanding of both specific social actors and society as a whole. As Melucci (1996:28) stated, social movements “show glimpses of possible futures, and are, in some respects, the vehicles of realization of these very futures”. Therefore, RC 47 has a particular interest in connecting the sociology of social movements with general sociology, developing approaches that avoid the traps of both “professional” sociologists’ hyper-specialization and of movements’ organic intellectuals.

Since its beginning, RC 47 has also paid a particular attention to cultural approaches to social movements and social transformations, developing or referring to concepts such as identity, meanings, emotions, cultural change, lifestyle change, experience, subjectivity, and personal dimensions of activism. Other RC 47 members have connected social movement studies and general sociology with approaches based on social classes or transnational networks. The coexistence of these multiple approaches makes RC 47 an open and lively arena of exchange. RC 47 aims at fostering a vibrant and constructive dialogue among different perspectives from the South and from the North of the planet. A better gender and continental/regional balance at the RC 47 activities is particularly important.

To foster a sociology that is properly global is another core feature of RC 47. It requires analyzing social movements, society and social transformations both beyond national and regional borders, and from the scale of the individual subject to the planet. The challenge is to avoid both methodological nationalism and methodological globalism by combining global issues with multi-site empirical fieldwork. Young sociologists, including PhD students, have a major role to play in dealing with this challenge, bringing strong empirical contributions and fresh analytical perspectives.

We aim at developing research and analyses beyond borders and to fully include sociologists from all regions of the world. Therefore, we need to pay a special attention to the inclusion of scholars from Asia and from the Global South, and particularly from countries where social sciences have limited resources and access to international meetings and publications. To promote a better integration of sociologists from the Global South and a more global and inclusive dialogue is RC 47’s main challenge and could be its main contribution to social movement studies.

II. A democratic, accountable, more decentralized and convivial RC

As social movement scholars, we particularly value internal democracy and the consistency between the values we promote (democracy, horizontality, openness, transparency) and the way we act.

More generally, we would like to encourage a more decentralized way of working. RC 47 aims at supporting its members’ initiatives whenever these contribute to an international, open and insightful perspective on social movements. The role of the chair and executive board of the RC is to promote and coordinate initiatives by RC 47 members, whether they are members of the board or not. In addition to financial support when it is possible, RC 47 may provide support by promoting and diffusing initiatives, co-organizing conferences or contributing to the publication of its results. A concrete example of such a support is the fact that RC 47 co-organizes conferences, which helps both organizers and participants to get funds and travel grants when applying to their university and to national and international research agencies.

The decentralization dynamic will also result in the creation of RC 47 working groups on specific topics (see below). Within the new project we would also like to develop closer working relationships between RC 47 and national and regional research committees on social movements. Various national and regional sociological associations have very lively committees on social movements (e.g. ASA, ALAS, French Sociological Association etc.). Encouraging new collaborations with these research committees will allow for a better combination of national and global perspectives on social movements.

RC 47’s convivial atmosphere is important not only because it is pleasant, but also because it is a condition of productive collegial relationships, in a space where critical reading of each other’s work leads to constructive criticisms rather than to personal criticisms. It should thus be open to debate, disagreements and critical discussion. The convivial aspect is particularly important for newcomers and PhD students, who may feel isolated at their first ISA conference. Pre-conferences at each ISA forum and congress will allow RC 47 members to get to know each other and start informal conversations and new collaborations.

Our mailing list “” has been launched and will be promoted as an efficient way to share information on our research committee and social movement studies in general. RC 47 will also use social media to strengthen internal communication and the dissemination of information, for example with #RC47, a social media page and a common affiliation on A range of media will be used to announce events and publications, but also to share questions (e.g. on social movements in a specific country, missing references on a specific point etc.).  The newsletter and mailing list also need a new impetus to make RC 47 a lively exchange and information network. The RC 47 seminar will be live-streamed on a dedicated Youtube channel and will be made available on our website. More broadly, we intend to set up a hub around RC 47, to exchange information, publications, teaching materials etc.

III. Publications

To disseminate the publications and projects of each of the members and to provide them with an avenue to publish the outcome of their research in international journals and publishing houses is a major objective of the RC. In addition to journal special issues and collective books, the new board has established the bases for two major publication projects: a public sociology platform on Open Democracy and a new journal.

Open Movements: The RC47 platform on

Editors in charge: Breno Bringel, University of Rio de Janeiro & Geoffrey Pleyers, University of Louvain.

While publishing in scholarly journals and books is indispensable, as social movement scholars we also aim at contributing to a high quality public debate on major issues. The UK-based website “Open Democracy” has been one of the most successful initiatives in providing a global platform for progressive and quality contributions. The articles they publish are very well distributed, and most of them get reproduced and translated by a wide range of progressive websites.

“Open Movements” will start in January 2015. We will publish 10 texts in the first week and then a weekly paper, gathering texts from different continents.

Open Movements: Democracy and social movements in the Global Age

Social movements are key actors in our democracies. This platform aims at providing critical and empirically based outlooks on social movements and new expressions of social and cultural transformations, as much the ones that strike mainstream media headlines as those that discreetly transform daily life and/or politics at the local and global scales.

Open Movements connects the analysis of social movements with broad social changes, considering the study of social movements as providing elements for a better understanding of both specific social actors and society as a whole. It brings together social scientists from the South and from the North of the planet connected to the International Sociological Association (ISA) Research Committee 47 on Social Classes and Social Movements (RC47).

A new journal: “Social movements and change”

“Social Movements and Change” is RC 47’s new journal. It aims at publishing innovative articles that connect empirical fieldwork with major questions in sociology and social movement studies.  It will be run by post-doctoral researchers, assistant professors and researchers who are about to complete their PhDs.

The first call for paper will be published in December 2014.


Editorial coordination:

  • Grégoire Lits, managing editor,
  • Emanuele Toscano, New Cultural Frontiers founding editor
  • Geoffrey Pleyers, RC 47 president

2014-2016 Editorial board:

  • Alexandra Kassir, PhD student, CADIS-EHESS, Lebano & France.
  • Brieg Capitaine, Post-doctoral fellow, McGill University, Montreal.
  • Carmen Diaz, PhD student, University of Guadalajara, Mexico.
  • Deniz Günze, PhD student, CADIS-EHESS & University, France & Turkey.
  • Jacob Mati, Post-doctoral fellow, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.
  • Philipp Altman, Post-doctoral fellow, Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Renata Mattos, Post-doctoral researcher, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Simone Gomes, PhD student, IESP, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Yoshi Aoki, PhD student, University of Tokyo.
    • Breno Bringel has co-edited a volume on “Global Modernity and Social Contestation” to be published as part of the Sage Studies in International Sociology (SSIS) Series. Five of the authors are active members of the ISA-RC47.
    • Paolo Gerbaudo, Emiliano Trere and Geoffrey Pleyers are preparing two special issues of the Journal of Communication Studies and the Journal of International Relations and Development based on the contributions to the panels they chaired at the 2014 ISA congress. Similar outcomes will be more systematically promoted.
    • Papers presented at the conference will be gathered in online publications.

Other publications & publication projects:


IV. RC 47 Conferences and meetings

Regular conferences and seminars are an indispensable tool to foster strong and convivial collaborations in an international network. All these events should focus more on the quality of the contributions and discussion than on the number of participants. This objective may notably be reached by assigning a discussant to each panel at conferences and congresses. This will ensure that each participant will receive a couple of good questions and concrete proposals to improve her/his paper.

Regional and thematic meetings

As stated above, RC 47 will support its members’ initiative to organize regional or international conferences, whether on specific topics, or as regional/continental encounters. While the RC 47 potential financial contribution is limited, its support may help conference organizers and participants in their applications for funding to organize the conference or to travel to the conference location.

Forthcoming RC 47 regional conferences:

  • “Social movements in Central and Eastern Europe”, University of Bucharest, May 11th-13th 2015.
  • Social movements in Latin America, RC plenary sessions and workshop at the ALAS conference in San José, Costa Rica, November 2015.
  • Two RC 47 meetings will take place at the World Social Forums in Tunis (2015) and Quebec (2016).

RC 47 international seminar: “Social movements in the global age”

The seminar will give us an opportunity to learn about social movements in different regions of the world and to discuss theoretical and analytical approaches to the sociology of social movements and in particular to the perspective of the sociology of social movements as a general sociology by scholars based in different continents.

All the sessions will be live-streamed on the ISA-RC 47 YouTube channel  and live-streamed at various universities (please contact us if you want to distribute it at your university).

This year, 5 sessions will be organized in partnership with the “Collège d’Etudes Mondiales”, in Paris. The other 5 sessions will be held in Mexico, Tunis (during the World Social Forum), Bogota, Bucharest and St-Petersburg. The sessions will be held in English, Spanish or French (the 3 ISA languages), with a translation whenever possible.

First sessions:

November 20th, 4 pm in Paris: Ayotzinapa: Social movements for peace in Mexico.

    John Ackerman & Irma Sandoval (UNAM & IHEAL-U. Paris 3). In Spanish, with a summary in French.

    Livestreamed and debates with local scholars in a dozen universities, including New York University,

    Universidad de Chile, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, FLACSO Ecuador, U. Complutense, U.C. Louvain.

December 5th, 3 pm, Paris: Alain Caillé (MAUSS): La convivialité et le don comme enjeu (in French)

At the Collège d’Etudes Mondiales, live distribution at the Univ. Nacional de Colombia and U.C. Louvain

January 30th, 3 pm, Paris (in French and in English.)

    Christophe Traini (IEP Aix): La cause animale

Breno Bringel (IESP Rio & ISA-RC 47): Book launch: “Social movements and global modernity” (Sage)

The full program will be available in January 2015.

V. Collaborative research

Thematic working groups

Working group general coordination: Priska Daphi & Geoffrey Pleyers

  • Gender & Social Movements. Coordination: Amana Matos, State University of Rio de Janeiro,
  • Conservative and racist movements. Coordination: Emanuele Toscano, University of Rome,

RC 47 as a platform for international research project

In addition to these classic missions of any RC, we have to find innovative ways to promote collective applications to international research grants among our members.

An increasing number of research funding applications requires a network of international researchers. It is particularly the case at the European level, but also in Latin America.

RC 47 working groups will provide new ways to connect people who work on similar topics and support their joint application to international research agencies and foundations.

RC 47 2014-2018 Board


Geoffrey Pleyers, University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium.


Marcelle Dawson, University of Otago, New Zealand & University of Johannesburg, South Africa.


Paolo Gerbaudo, Kings College London, Italy & UK.


Board members:

Breno Bringel, IESP, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil & Spain.

Renata Campos Motta, Freie Universität Berlin, Brazil & Germany

Priska Daphi, University of Frankfurt (Main), Germany

Maria da Gloria Gohn, State University of Campinas

Jeff Goodwin, New York University, USA

Eiji Hamanishi, Notre-Dame Seishin University, Japan

Christoph Haug, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Rajesh Misra, University of Delhi, India

Sergio Tamayo, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico

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