Mobilizing Representations: The Condition Sine Qua Non for a Social Movement

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Zornitsa CHAKMAKOVA, University of Plovdiv Paisii Hilendarski, Bulgaria
In this paper we will suggest a cognitive approach in order to reach a better understanding of the emergence and maintenance of a social movement. It is in the context of the most lasting and persevering antigovernment protests in the recent Bulgarian history that we will proceed to an analysis inspired from the theories of frame alignment processes that focus on the interpretive frameworks emerging within a protest movement. According to David Snow, frame alignment processes are “the linkage of individual and social movement organization (SMO) interpretive orientations, such that some set of individual interests, values and beliefs and SMO activities, goals, and ideology are congruent and complementary. »[1] Therefore, this conception implies the pre-existence of organization structures. How should we study the cases when organizations emerge post factum? Put in other words, how could we explain unsolicited and spontaneous social movements? How does an individual become a challenger? Our main thesis consists in the apprehension that the condition sine qua non of a social movement is a set of mobilizing representations. How do they crystallize? How are they constructed and diffused? Therefore, we will strive not only to make a point about the reasons for participation in the movement but we will try to elicit the motives of challengers.

The development of the notion of mobilizing representations will lead us to discuss the theories of both sociology of knowledge as sociology of social movements, based on empirical data. Understanding the emergence, development, dissemination and incorporation of a representation is a theoretical, methodological and empirical challenge that could solve Olson’s Paradox - the aporia of social movements.

[1] SNOW A. David, Frame Alignment Processes, American Sociological Review, 1986, Vol. 51 (August), 464-481, p. 464.