Exploring Memories, Understanding Legacies. the Biographical Approach in the Study of Social Movements' Unanticipated Consequences

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Liana Maria DAHER, Educational Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy
In the long range, social movements collective action could generate, and/or combine to effect, crucial modifications in society and human relationships, that are considerably different from the intended and foreseen purposes of leaders and activists of social movements. Often results overlap with the stated intentions of the activists of the movement, producing unanticipated consequences both in the life dimensions they were addressed to or in other areas.

Moreover, social movements are only one of several collective actors involved in the process of creation of social change, hence it is difficult to give an unequivocal interpretation of “goals-strategies-outcomes” dynamics and to attribute the outcomes (social changes) of collective actions to only one actor, in particular as far as cultural modifications are concerned.

The paper proposes the biographical approach as useful for rebuilding temporal processes. Making use of a narrative method that does not claim to represent a close and detailed model of the above change processes, seem to be particularly suitable because of its implicit power to give an analytical frame of the past, the present, and the future as constitutive and inseparable parts of the temporal flow. These research methods, data, and relative interpretations are in fact characterized by a dynamic relationship between temporal registers where it is possible to distinguish the above dimensions.

Starting from the result and process of a concrete research design, the paper aims at analysing strengths and weaknesses in the using the above methodological model. In particular, it aims at evaluating the advantages of the approach in exploring the link between the past and present, as useful to better understand long-term and unanticipated consequences of social movements.