Political Activism and Social Movements

Research in this stream explores how collective actors develop practices and ideas in order to challenge norms and bring about social and political change. Our work is necessarily inter-disciplinary – spanning sociology, political science, cultural studies, oral history – and is motivated by a profound commitment to placing social agency, democratic pluralism, and participatory citizenship at the heart of the social sciences. It is organised into two closely linked research clusters: social movements, and political activism.

Social Movements
Our work on collective action focuses particularly on how social movements develop public practices. By paying attention to the behaviours, ideas, beliefs, emotions, identities, choices and strategies of people engaged in collective action, we seek to understand how cultural and political change is brought about; how it happens, why it happens and who makes it happen. Our work examines both movements ‘from below’ and movements ‘from above’ – that is collective action by powerful actors. It explores how such movements develop and cohere, and how they interact with wider social forces such as globalisation, increasing (in)equality, technological development, and so on – forces that social movements may themselves have set in motion.

Political Activism
Work in this stream focuses on the analysis of political activism in contemporary societies. Through the use of life narratives we analyse in which way specific actions and policies impact upon societies, and in particular the way that individual and collective agents negotiate these impacts. Here again, we pay attention to the opinions, emotions, and discourses of ‘subaltern actors’, enabling analysis of the material strategies they develop, the identity formations and evolutions they undergo, and the stories they construct in order to relate their multiple experiences.


Dr Graeme Hayes (Theme Coordinator)
Dr Demelza Jones
Dr Pam Lowe
Dr Tom Mills
Professor Phil Mizen
Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik
Dr. Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla
Dr Anton Popov
Dr Ebru Soytemel
Dr Vidu Badigannavar

External Research Associates

Narzanin Massoumi
David Miller