16 June 2020

New research centre puts focus on political mobilisation and protest


A new research centre under the Department of Sociology will shed light on the growing numbers of civic protests targeting issues such as social injustice, discrimination and climate change.

International Fridays
Photo: Roland Geisheimer/attenzione

Throughout the world, a rising number of protest movements are rallying in the streets or using a wide range of media platforms to fight for action on climate change, corruption, social injustice, discrimination and other current political issues.

Now a new research centre at the Department of Sociology named ‘Copenhagen Centre for Political Mobilisation and Social Movement Studies’ will gather more knowledge on these movements, not only by looking at how they work, but also by analysing to what extent the political protests lead to actual social change.

“Historically, social movements like the labour movement and the women's movement have had a major influence on the development of today's democracy. There is also a large body of social science research on social movements, but still, we need systematic research on the political mobilisation and protest we at the moment see in Denmark and in other countries,” says Associate Professor Nicole Doerr who heads the centre, also abbreviated to CoMMonS.

As an interdisciplinary knowledge hub CoMMonS will shed more light on civic protests through a wide range of activities, from guest lectures and workshops to conferences and externally funded research projects. Forging bonds to other research centres and universities is another high priority. So far 24 external researchers from other Danish and foreign universities are affiliated with the centre alongside researchers from the University of Copenhagen.

Nicole Doerr expects this list to become longer. An online opening symposium at the end of April gathered over a thousand digital participants and visitors from around the globe to discuss 'Social Movements and Political Mobilisation in Times of Global Pandemic'.

"In countries like the United States and others the corona lockdown and its political mismanagement have escalated massive conflicts about inequality and race/ethnicity that scholars at the international symposium had already predicted. The crisis of democracy that we are facing shows the need to study protest as a big and growing field of international research," Doerr says.

She stresses that the new centre will have a broad focus on political mobilisation, including contentious areas such as nationalist movements or government attempts to clamp down on political protesters.

See the new homepage of CoMMonS, including video coverage of the recent symposium.