Over recent years, social movements formed in response to European neoliberal austerity measures have played an increasingly important role in referendums. This is the first book to bridge the gap between social movement studies and research on direct democracy. It draws on social movement theory to understand the nature of popular mobilization in referendums.
Written by one of the world’s leading authorities on social movements, the book uses unique case studies such as the referendum on independence in Scotland, the consultations on independence in Catalonia, the Italian referendum on water, the referendum on the Troika proposals in Greece and the referendum on the debt repayment in Iceland, to illustrate the ways the social movements that formed as a consequence of the 2008 financial crash have affected the referendums’ dynamic and results. It also addresses the way in which participation from below has had a transformative impact on the organisational strategies and framing practices used in the campaigns.
Looking at general issues of democracy, as well as the political effects of neoliberalism, this topical book is ideally suited to understand the reasons for the Brexit result and will be read by a wide audience interested in social movements, referendums and democratic innovation.
Donatella Della Porta is professor of political science and dean of the Institute for Humanities and the social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, where she directs the Center on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos). She has directed a major ERC project Mobilizing for Democracy, on civil society participation in democratization processes in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Mattei Dogan Prize for distinguished achievements in the field of political sociology and PhD honoris causa from the universities of Lausanne, Bucharest and Goteborg. Her main fields of research are social movements, the policing of public order, participatory democracy and political corruption.
Francis O’Connor is Research Associate at the European University Institute. He studied Sociology/Politics and Italian at NUI Galway and subsequently completed a Masters on Middle East Politics in SOAS. He defended his PhD thesis "Armed Social Movements and Insurgency. The PKK and its Communities of Support" at the European University Institute in 2014.
Martin Portos is at the European University Institute. He holds a degree in Political Science and Administration from the University of Santiago de Compostela and also gained an MSc in Politics Research (Comparative Government) at the University of Oxford (UK). Since 2012, he has been undertaking a full-time PhD in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute at Florence (Italy). His main areas of interest are: comparative politics, European comparative politics and governments, social movements, collective action and contentious politics, democratic quality and democratization processes, politics and territorial organization, nationalism and federalism.
Anna Subirats is at European University Institute. She holds a degree in Geography from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB, Barcelona) and a MSc in Urban Studies from University College London (UCL, London). Prior to becoming a Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Political and Social Science at the European University Institute (EUI, Florence), she worked for three years as a project developer for the metropolitan planning consulting firm Barcelona Regional. Her current research focuses on the themes of urban governance, politics of urban planning, contentious politics in processes of urban transformation and urban social movements.
Chapter 1: Referendums from below: An introduction
Chapter 2: The context of the referendums from below: A tale of three crises
Chapter 3: The organisational strategies of movements in referendums from below
Chapter 4: Framing strategies in referendums from below
Chapter 5: Expanding the comparison: the Water Referendum in Italy
Chapter 6: Referendums from below: some reflections
"This timely and original book bridges the gap between social movement studies and research on direct democracy. Donatella della Porta and her co-authors forcefully show how social movements shape the dynamics of referendums campaigns in times of economic and political crises." Swen Hutter, European University Institute
"In this supremely readable and interesting book, Donatella della Porta, the foremost scholar of social movements, and her colleagues address the role of ‘referendums from below’, a timely and yet surprisingly understudied phenomenon. The book provides a very valuable contribution to the literature on direct democracy as well as an important contribution to political science." Matt Qvortrup, Coventry University