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The Centre for Sociology of Democracy studies democracy in modern societies. Our projects deal with democracy from different perspectives and with different methods.

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Social movements

In their chapter for the Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics in the Social Sciences, Taina Meriluoto and Eeva Luhtakallio discuss the specificities of ethical questions when studying a political topic, in particular social movements and activists in stigmatized or risky positions.

Visual politicization and youth challenges to an unequal public sphere: conceptual and methodological perspectives

By discussing current youth’s democratic practices and introducing the concept of visual politicization, Eeva Luhtakallio, Taina Meriluoto and Carla Malafaia argue for a reconsideration of what we understand as political action and propose new methodological tools for analyzing it.

Visual bodies, ritualised performances: an offline-online analysis of Extinction Rebellion’s protests in Finland and Portugal

In their article, Carla Malafaia, Jenni Kettunen and Eeva Luhtakallio explore the function of bodies as tools of visibility in ritualised online-offline performances. By analysing performative protests, the authors shed light on the importance of paying attention to non-verbal levels of political action and argumentation.

Education and climate activism: Youth democratic practices and imaginations towards a common world

In this editorial Carla Malafaia, Maria Fernandes-Jesus and Eeva Luhtakallio discuss the new diverse ways young generations have become mobilized to tackle the climate crisis and picture ways towards a common world and practices.

The Pepe the Frog Image-Meme in Hong Kong: Visual Recurrences and Gender Fluidity on the LIHKG Forum

Using a combination of a computational big data analysis and a qualitative analysis, Katrien Jakobs, Degel Cheung, Vasileios Maltezos and Cecilia Wong examine how activists used the Pepe the Frog image-meme to make statements about Hong Kong politics, gender and democracy during the 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill and Law Movement.

‘Missing school isn’t the end of the world (actually, it might prevent it)’: climate activists resisting adult power, repurposing privileges and reframing education

In her article, Carla Malafaia studies how youths manage their activism and argues that activists construct margins of resistance in their political practices by incorporating processes that interrupt adult structures while reframing educational imagination.

PLURALITY IN URBAN POLITICS: Conflict and Commonality in Mouffe and Thévenot

In their article, by augmenting Mouffe’s agonistic pluralism with Thévenot’s pragmatic sociology, Veikko Eranti and Taina Meriluoto develop both an analytical framework for a more nuanced study of urban politics as sites of democracy and a detailed conceptualization of pluralism in democracy.

Fame democracy? Social media and visuality-based transformation of the public sphere

In their article, Eeva Luhtakallio and Taina Meriluoto argue that a fame-based logic has become dominant in the strategies of actors in many different situations concerning political action in public. By recognizing the fame-based values informing public action with a pragmatist approach, they argue that a wider variety of action can be recognized as public action and the normative foundations that inform people’s action in public can be interrogated.

How do civil society organizations influence climate change politics? Evidence from India, Indonesia, and Finland

In their article, Luhtakallio, Ylä-Anttila and Lounela compare the efforts of civil society organizations to influence climate change policymaking in three countries with very different traditions of democratic decision making.

The self in selfies—Conceptualizing the selfie-coordination of marginalized youth with sociology of engagements

In her article, Taina Meriluoto conceptualizes selfies as reflexive practices of self-coordination, and develops an analytical framework adapted from the literature of sociology of engagements for their analysis.

Group formation, styles, and grammars of commonality in local activism

In her article, published in the British Journal of Sociology in 2018, Eeva Luhtakallio argues that in order to analyse democracy as a pattern constantly processed in a given society, it is useful to look at activist groups’ agenda setting and recruitment principles, group bonds and boundaries, and how these actions direct and influence ways of creating the common. Based on an ethnographic study on bicycle activism in Helsinki, Finland, the article describes a local critical mass movement that was successful in promoting a bicycle friendly and sustainable city, yet dissolved due to lack of people involved, and the bicycle demonstrations stopped at a moment of high public interest.

sole-bicycles-1418866-unsplash

In her article, published in the British Journal of Sociology in 2018, Eeva Luhtakallio argues that in order to analyse democracy as a pattern constantly processed in a given society, it is useful to look at activist groups’ agenda setting and recruitment principles, group bonds and boundaries, and how these actions direct and influence ways of creating the common. Based on an ethnographic study on bicycle activism in Helsinki, Finland, the article describes a local critical mass movement that was successful in promoting a bicycle friendly and sustainable city, yet dissolved due to lack of people involved, and the bicycle demonstrations stopped at a moment of high public interest. This empirical puzzle is addressed by combining three theoretical perspectives: Kathleen Blee’s work on path dependencies in nascent activist groups; Nina Eliasoph and Paul Lichterman’s work on group styles, and Laurent Thévenot’s work on the grammars of commonality. These theoretical tools help understand the sense of what is deemed possible, desirable and feasible in activist groups, and the consequences thereof to social movement ‘success’ and ‘failure’. The article claims that everyday practices and interaction are crucial in understanding the ‘democratic effects’ of social movements. It concludes that following specific processes of politicization and their conditionings in activist groups provides keys to understanding contextual differences in democracies without resorting to methodological nationalism or to exaggerated global isomorphism, and thus may contribute to figuring out how to succeed global action plans over wicked, pressing problems like global warming.

Taina