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Several contributions in this blog have been dealing with different examples of the transnational mobilization of labor rights by social movement organizations and trade unions, targeting transnational companies, international organizations or states to introduce and enforce core labor rights and accept freedom of associations (e.g. the Asian FLoor Wage Campaign, People’s Tribunals or the Asia-Europe People’s Forum). There are other interesting blogs which discuss the development of chances and limits of transnational labor solidarity and transnational labor rights activism under conditions of global restructuring ( transnational labor) or country specific cases (e.g. China).

Different blog entries give interesting examples of single incidents and their immediate consequences. However, sometimes they tell little about how the different strategies relate to each other and what kind of changes they produce when looking at them over longer period of time. In my recent paper (“pathways of transnational activism”), I try to develop an analytical framework which allows for analyzing the dynamic interplay between activism, transnational institutions, and domestic contexts. It integrates insights from social movement research on transnational collective action and insights from institutional theorists on institutional interactions. I introduced three concepts which intend to connect the ideas that transnational activists – social movements, trade unions and worker alike when they engage in transnational contention – mobilize in multiple arenas at once, addressing multiple targets (state and private) therewith changing the environment (both national and domestic) in which they operate: Read the rest of this entry »

Over at orgtheory.com, Brayden King pointed to two recent studies on online activism. In their study on The Structure of Online Activism” (PDF), published in the newly founded Open Access journal Sociological Science, Kevin Lewis, Kurt Gray and Jens Meierhenrich investigate participation around a Facebook “Cause” on Darfur. Causes” is a platform for online activism which is linked to and builds upon Facebook and the latter’s possibility to recruit your Facebook friends for a certain cause. The cause under study was a campaign on Darfur with over 1.2 million supporters. The authors had access to great longitudinal network data and investigated how the decision to publicly support the cause on Facebook had translated into further support later on. The disillusioning result (p. 2):

99.76 percent of members never donated[.]

To a certain degree, the results of the paper corroborate what is known as the 1% rule on the internet. The overly large majority of an online community contributes nothing, only one percent is responsible for nearly all of the content; in the Darfur case even fewer people (0.24 percent) contributed in form of donations. Compared to traditional forms of mobilizing this is a very poor conversion rate, as reported by Lewis et al. (p. 4):

Mail solicitations, meanwhile, typically generate rates of 2 percent to 8 percent of people donating $10 to $50 each[.]

Furthermore, activism levels decreased quickly over time  (see Figure 1).

Decline of individual participation shown via a final portrait of the evolution of the Save Darfur Cause (taken from: Lewis et al. 2014, S. 6)

Figure 1: Decline of individual participation shown via a final portrait of the evolution of the Save Darfur Cause (taken from: Lewis et al. 2014, S. 6)

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Next week, 14-25 November 2013, there will be a workshop on transnational participation and social movement activism hosted by the Innovation in Governance Research Group /CESNOVA and the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology, University of Lisbon

The workshop looks at the global spread of new action forms, practices, and the social construction and making of public participation. It asks what research on transnational participation can learn from insights of social movement studies and vice versa. As a presenter, I take the opportunity to call upon scientists to contribute to the construction of a transnational political sociology, were the division between research on participation and mobilization is overcome. I argue, that the field transnational political sociology is prone to overcome the barriers for the following reasons.

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How can we organize for alternative social, economic, and ecological balance?” is the overriding question of the 2014 LAEMOS Meeting on “Constructing Alternatives”. The organisers of the conference are particularly soliciting papers with an interdisciplinary perspective on dynamics of change, innovation, power and resistance, as well as theoretical and empirical papers looking at alternative forms of social, economic, and ecological development from an organizational perspective.

LAEMOS, the Latin American and European Meeting on Organization Studies, organises a conference every two years, acting as a bridge from the European Group for Organisational Studies (EGOS) to Latin America. The 2014 conference will be held in Havana, Cuba – an interesting venue for discussing alternatives, given Cuba’s turbulent history and present challenges of political and economic change.

  • Type: Conference call for papers.
  • Deadline: 15 November 2013.
  • Event date: 2-5 April 2014.
  • Location: La Habana, Cuba.

(phil)

 

How did tobacco and smoking become a global health policy issue? This article – the third in our series (1, 2) on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – examines the critical juncture at which new information, new information technology and an emergent transnational activism combined to produce a new agenda for reducing the impact of NCDs.

Corinthian steamers

Health hazards of smoking in 1824: the flaming moustache

(Detail from “Corinthian Steamers”. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Once upon the time, the multi-billion dollar tobacco industry appeared legally impregnable, and held enough sway to turn United Nations (UN) organisations against the World Health Organisation (WHO) to neutralise global tobacco control efforts.

A 1999 World Bank report estimated that four million people died annually from tobacco-related illnesses and predicted the number to rise to ten million by 2030, with 70% of these deaths occurring in “developing” countries. According to Taylor and Bettcher, 800 million of the 1.25 billion smokers worldwide lived in developing countries in 2000.

However, within the emerging global health community, a transnational anti-tobacco movement was gaining momentum by the late 1990s. One major shift in approach by the WHO was the development of a new anti-smoking initiative within its new commitment to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs increasingly became a legitimate area of WHO involvement, which was concerned about tobacco as the second leading NCD risk factor, causing 9% of mortality worldwide.

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Last Friday, European Union (EU) Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier announced the decision to exclude water and sanitation services from a planned Directive on concessions (contracts with private companies over the provision of public services). Water will be exempt, not because the EU believes it was a mistake to include it in its plans for private provision, but because the citizenry misunderstood the EU’s intentions.

Shining example of market-based water supply (with unclear prospects in Europe)

(Source: Stougard. CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

The announcement came against a backdrop of protests in several countries against the privatisation of water, and the first “European Citizens’ Initiative” to reach quorum. Nearly 1.5 million EU citizens signed the petition (still open) to exclude water and sanitation from internal market rules and ensure the universal right to water; though participation was massively skewed towards one country, Germany.

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This post is provided by our guest blogger Ingo Nordmann. Having gained his Master’s degree in Global Studies in Leipzig, Poland, and South Africa, Ingo has worked at the German embassy in Ghana and in intercultural management consulting.

If you’re 28 years old, with two university degrees, and your parents have invested all their money in your education, and you’ve done everything that was expected of you: if society then tells you, ‘sorry, we don’t have a job for you’, then it’s easy to understand why people revolt. We have to give young people hope. In Europe, the world’s richest continent, there has to be a place for young people, damn it!

With these words, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, describes the heart of the problem. Most young, unemployed Europeans are not marginalized, deprived, and lazy, but they live in the centre of society – a society that seems to have no use for them. This is particularly the case in some Soutern European countries such as Greece and Spain where unemployemnt rates for young people are over 50% as compared to currently 8% in Germany. Youngsters from countries outside of the EU face even more severe challenges on the job market.

Recently, I went to the Balkans to gather some impressions from the beautiful, but often-neglected Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In the country’s second-largest city, Bitola, situated close to the Greek border on the foots of Pelister National Park, I talked to young people, to officials at the municipality, and to activists at the Business Start-up Centre Bitola, to find out how young people in this region evaluate the situation and what the government and NGOs are doing to change it.

Bitola’s main street – a popular meeting place for young people

Bitola’s main street – a popular meeting place for young people

During a training course supported by the EU’s Youth in Action Programme and YMCA Bitola, I had the chance to interview 22 young activists, volunteers, youth workers, and students between the ages of 21 and 28 from 10 countries. They mainly came from countries outside of the EU, namely Albania (3), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2), Kosovo (2), Macedonia (3), Serbia (2), and Turkey (3), while seven were from EU countries (Romania, Portugal, Poland, and Slovenia). Read the rest of this entry »

Just recently the renowned Göttinger Institute for Democratic Research has published a remarkable study on the motives of protest movements in Germany (“The new power of citizens”). While the book reveals interesting insights about who protests and why in 2012, it itself triggered public criticism – not for its content, but for who financed the study – the international petrol company BP. This triggered a larger debate about the role of transnational companies as financiers of research particularly into activism, which is occasionally also directed against such companies. Are research results used by companies to democratize economic projects or rather to further the economization of democratic concerns of citizens?

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Several contributions in this blog have discussed different forms of transnational labor rights activism, transnational modes of governing working conditions in global supply chains and their local consequences. In all these contributions, the structural reasons for a core concerns of workers – their low income (“poverty wages”) have not been discussed. In a very recent paper (“expanding repertoires of labor: multi-scalar counterstrategies in the Asian garment industry” which will be presented at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin on the 8th of October 2012), Jeroen Merk and Sabrina Zajak discuss the reasons behind poverty wages across Asian countries, reasons which make multi-scalar strategies of labor necessary to counter these problems. A brief summary shall be given next. Read the rest of this entry »

The question whether and how NGOs or transnational social movements can be considered as productive parts of something like a global democratic governance or even an evolving cosmopolitical order has bothered many scholars sofar. In absence of a fixed nation state framework, including clear-cut geographical representation chains, some scholars even deny the attempt to understand transnational activism as a form of promoting democracy across borders.
“Deliberative Politik von unten” is not genuinely dealing with transnationalism in specific. However, I suggest the innovative research method is worth taking a serious look at for all researchers which are interested in measuring deliberation in transnational small groups settings; this book helps one to go transnational with Habermas. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
April 2017
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