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Modern Social Movements

Conference "Modern Social Movements: Questions About Subjects and Politicization" (58-60 Galernaya St.)

The conference aims at making social movements research more popular in Russia by bringing together prominent researchers from abroad and Russian scholars, including PhD students and researchers from the regions. The program of the conference will be designed to introduce foreign scholars with studies performed in Russia, to integrate Russian scholars into the international discussion on social movements, and start a dialog between national and international researchers. An additional goal is to uncover interesting researchers working in Russian regions, who are not yet well known in national academia. For this purpose, Russian scholars will be selected on a competitive basis after an open call for proposals.
Our main conceptual idea is that although Russia is known as a country with weak social mobilization and movements, grassroots initiatives have arisen in almost all regions, and the movement “For Fair Elections” 2011-2013 has had a fairly wide resonance. The Russian field, although understudied in the social movement research, helps to raise some interesting questions. Here are some of those:

  • How can social mobilization emerge in the absence of any obvious conducive structural factors (neither in the political field, nor in “mainstream” culture or in the organizational field?) Moreover, how can a mobilization happen under the conditions of deep atomization and weak and underdeveloped activist organizations and networks?
  • How can the politization process occur in an apolitical society?
  • Who are those “ordinary” people who become activists? What are their trajectories?
  • Under what conditions can small or local grassroots initiatives transform into more general social movements?

Additional analytical questions can be formulated: human agency and structures; political, civic and social; historical legacy; individual engagement, activist worlds and “ordinary people’s “worlds; solidarity; the making of social ties; narrow/general claims, local/national/global, etc.

Some Russian scholars have conducted interesting empirical studies, but lack intellectual discussion on their findings. We hope that our conference will provide the opportunity for such discussion and contribute to further developments in the understanding and theories of social movements.


June 5, Friday

9:30-10:00am – Opening, greetings

  • Aleksey Kudrin (St.Petersburg State University)
  • Nikolay Skvortsov (St.Petersburg State University)
  • Vincent McGee (Trustee, the Gagarin Trust) 

10:00-1:00pm – Key-notes. Chair: Anisya Khokhlova (St.Petersburg State University) 

  • Kerstin Jacobsson (University of Gothenburg) "Grassroots in the City: New Perspectives on Urban Movements in Central and Eastern Europe"
  • Helena Flam (University of Leipzig) "Social Movements and Emotions"
  • Anna Zhelnina (City University of New York), Karine Clement (St.Petersburg State University) "Becoming an Activist in an Apolitical Society. A View from Russia" 

1:00-2:00pm – Lunch

2:00-4:00pm – Parallel sessions

Emotions, Identity and Values in Social MovementsChair: Vladimir Kostushev (Higher School of Economics)

  • Maxim Alyukov (European University at St.Petersburg) "Exclusion, Collective Identity and Reterritorialization of Affect: The Case of Anti-Maidan Movement in Ukraine"
  • Maria Gryshchenko (National Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev) "Values of Protesters, Presented in the Visual Documents in the Public Space of the Euromaydan in November 2013 - March 2014 Movement in Ukraine"
  • Denis Skopin (St.Petersburg State University) ""Politics of the Mourning": the Soldiers Mother Committee in Russia and Its Activities"
  • Alexandrina Vanke (State Academic University for the Humanities) "Political Emotions: Protest and Pro-Government Rallies in Russia in 2011–2013"

NationalismChair: Anton Oleinik (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

  • Marharyta Fabrykant (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) "Nationalist Movements in Postnationalist World: Will the Future Differ from the Past?"
  • Pal Kolsto (University of Oslo) "Collaboration Between Nationalists and Liberals"
  • Maria Turovets (independent researcher, Russia) "Policy of Obedience: Depoliticization of the Movement Against Copper- Nickel Mining in Chernozemie (Voronezh Region)"

Student Session 

4:00-4:30pm – Coffee-break

4:30-6:30pm – Parallel sessions

Solidarity Building (room 154). Chair: Viktor Kaploun (St.Petersburg State University)

  • Boris Gladarev (Centre for Independent Social Research) "Attempts to Overcome "Public Aphasia": an Analysis of Public Discussions in Russia at the Beginning of the XXI Century"
  • Alexander Kondakov (European University at St.Petersburg) "Building Coalitions: A Methodology of Queer Reading of Migration Policy"
  • Oleg Zhuravlev (Public Sociology Laboratory, European University) "Politicization of Apolitical Activism: Post-Protest Local Movements in Russia"
  • Natalia Tregubova (St.Petersburg State University) "Why Labor Migrants Do Not Protest in Russia? Analysis of Deprivation, Discontent and Collective Action through the Lens of Sociology of Emotions"

Conservative Mobilization, Mobilization for Reform, Religious Mobilization. Chair: Anna Gurinskaya (St.Petersburg State University)

  • Ekaterina Khodzhaeva (European University at St.Petersburg) "Revival of DND (Voluntary People’s Guard) in Russia: a Case of Social Mobilization from Above"
  • Sarah Lindermann-Komarova (Siberian Civic Initiatives Support Center Foundation, Novosibirsk State University) "What Works: The Emergence of a New Paradigm to Promote Reform and Social Movements in Russia"
  • Danila Raskov (St.Petersburg State University) "The Protest Repertoire of Sons of Freedom in Canada"

Student Session

June 6, Saturday

10:00-1:00pm – Key-notes. Chair: Susan Gillespie (Bard College, USA)

  • Laurent Thévenot (School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences in Paris) "What do We Learn from Russian Collective Actions Analysis: a Transnational Perspective"
  • Donatella Della Porta (European University Institute) "Democracy in the Squares: Participation and Deliberation in Social Movements"
  • Geoffrey Pleyers (Catholic University Leuven in Belgium) "Alter-Activism on the Squares and Beyond. From Subjectivation to Action"
  • Nina Eliasoph (University of Southern California) "Social Movements as NGOs in the Culture of Accountability: Documenting Unique Places, People and Customs for Distant Donors"

1.00-2.00pm – Lunch

2.00-4.30pm – Parallel sessions

Dynamics of Politicization and Depoliticization (of Ordinary People, Ordinary Protest Experiences). Chair: Anna Zhelnina (City University of New York and Higher School of Economics)

  • Elena Belokurova and Dmitry Vorobjev (Centre for Independent Social Research) "Social Mobilization through Electoral Campaigns in a Depoliticized Society: Case of Municipal Elections in St.Petersburg"
  • Julia Skokova (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) "What Effects does Movement of Election Observers Have on Civil Society and Democracy in Russia?"
  • Ksenia Ermoshina (Center for Sociology of Innovation Mines Paris Tech, France) "Struggle Against Potholes as a Struggle Against Corruption: Civic Applications and Construction of Public Problems in Contemporary Russia"
  • Alexander Nikiforov (St.Petersburg State University) "Traffic Conflicts and Accidents as a Framework for Politicization of an Apolitical Society in Russia: from Social Rage to Contentious Politics"
  • Anton Oleinik (Memorial University of Newfoundland) "A Political Dimension of Traffic Police’s Operation in Russia: A Case Study"

Ideologies, Frames, Top-down or Bottom-up Approaches. Chair: Ivan Kurilla (St.Petersburg State University)

  • Andrey Semenov (Perm State National Research University) "From Economic Crisis to Political: Dynamic of Mobilisation Frames in Russia (2008-2012)"
  • Christian Fröhlich (Södertörn University) "Anarchists in Contemporary Russia: a Movement yet to Rise?"
  • Ostbo Jardar (University of Oslo) "Emotional Demobilization. The Social Media Framing of the "Apolitical Values" of Russian Pro-Regime Demonstrations"
  • Maria Koskina (Higher School of Economics, Nizhny Novgorod) "The Concept of Justice in the Internet Social Network Discourse of the Civil Activists (Nizhny Novgorod in support of Kargin)"
  • Geir Flikke (University of Oslo) "The Cultural Turn in Social Movements: Symbolic Framing in the Russian Electoral Protests of 2011-12" 

Student Session

4:00-4:30pm – Coffee-break

5.00-7.00pm – Parallel sessions

Social, Economics, Profession, Urban and Politics. Chair: Olga Chepurnaya (St.Petersburg State University)

  • Svetlana Erpyleva and Andrey Nevsky (Public Sociology Laboratory) "The Political and the Social in Mass Protest Movements in Russia and Ukraine"
  • Anisya Khokhlova and Elena Tykanova (St.Petersburg State University) "The Construction of "Growth Machines" Images in Local City-Planning Conflicts in St.Petersburg"
  • Ksenia Demakova (Perm State University) "Successful Communication Practices of Urban Activist Groups"
  • Asya Mironenko (European University at St.Petersburg) "Professionalization of the Russian Medicine and Depolitization of Russian Medics"

Why and How People Mobilize? Individual Engagement. Chair: Carine Clement (St.Petersburg State University)

  • Melanie Henry (Aix-Marseille University, Institute of Research and Study of the Arab and Muslim World): "Representing the 1977’s Popular Uprising: Individual Narratives of a Collective Experience in Alexandria (Egypt)"
  • Youssef El Chazli (Columbia University and University of Lausanne, Switzerland) "From "Zero" to "Hero": Becoming Revolutionaries in Egypt’s 2nd Capital"
  • Olga Lavrinenko (Center for the Political Analysis and Prognosis) "Anti-Systemic Protests as a Type of Civic Emancipation in the Authoritarian Regimes: Cases of Protest against Fraudulent Presidential Elections in Belarus (2006 and 2010)"
  • Elena Trubina (Ural Federal University) "On Futility of Joining Protests: College-Educated Young Russians’ Perspectives"

Student Session