SWG 04 pursues the following two objectives:
Provide a continuous platform for researchers interested in social movements and organizations and bring together thus far
unconnected groups of scholars.
Explore newly emerging themes at the intersection of social movements and organizational scholarship.
To structure and organize these objectives, SWG 04 focus on four distinct topical areas that take up contemporary issues regarding the study of social movements and organizations. These four topical areas form
the backdrop for the four sub-themes SWG 04 will organize at the EGOS Colloquia 2021–2014.
First, we aim to study changing forms of organizing social movement activism and contestation. The general trend over the past decades has been one of institutionalization and absorption of reform-oriented movements
into public and private regulatory instances, such as in the case of governmental agencies specifically addressing questions
related to environmental pollution or non-governmental organizations collaborating with multinational firms regarding the
elaboration of labor-related codes of conduct and regulatory schemes. More recently, however, prominent movements have resisted
this road towards progressive institutionalization, such as, arguably, in the case of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but
also reflected in traditional institutions’ difficulty of finding adequate answers to grievances formulated by activists.
As a result, activism, protest and contestation have taken on forms that markedly differ from the traditional channels aimed
at established organization – be they bureaucratic government agencies or multinational enterprises. Many protests seem more
radical, short-lived and less ‘organized’ than their traditional counterparts. Social media campaigns flare up and die down,
often with limited leadership or direction, lacking a consistent formulation of demands and at times even with changing targets.
These new forms of activism present a multitude of challenges, both for the participants and for targets of such protests.
They are essentially organizational questions within movement research, which we aim to explore with this SWG.
Second, we want to offer a platform to showcase research studying unintended consequences of social movement activism. For a long time, social movement scholarship has been relatively inward-oriented, focusing chiefly on advancing our understanding
of the circumstances under which social movements emerge and are successful in mobilizing supporters (e.g. McCarthy & Zald,
1977; Klandermans, 1984; Koopmans, 1999). Later, scholars started asking “Was it worth the Effort?” (Giugni, 1998) and whether
movements managed to meet their goals. Since then, a considerable effort has been undertaken to study whether and under what
circumstances social movements affect decision makers in ways intended by movement actors (King et al., 2007; Weber et al.,
2009; Giugni & Grasso, 2018). Recently, scholars have started studying secondary effects and unintended consequences of social
movement activity, such as effects on untargeted organizations (Bundy et al., 2013) on the general discursive opportunity
structure (Briscoe et al., 2015) or backlash and effects opposite to those intended by the activists (Surroca et al., 2013).