9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Governance, Participation and Local Politics Building I, 2E9

Jobless and Toothless - The protest of the unemployed and precarious in Europe: Forms, conditions and dilemma

Jobless and Toothless - The protest of the unemployed and precarious in Europe: Forms, conditions and dilemma

Collective protest actions by the unemployed and precarious spread throughout European countries during the late 1990s and early 2000s. This mobilization incited research by social movement scholars, because it challenged the assumption that poor people and weak interests hardly engage in protest action. This paper will deal with these challenges by summarizing and discussing latest research on the mobilization of deprived people's movements in order to present available findings from various European countries, unveil conducive conditions and draw lessons for the advancement of theoretical explanations. The paper will argue that ongoing changes at a societal level - here mainly related to grievances, constituencies, and organizational infrastructures - provide a beneficial background for increasing the probability of collective action by the jobless. While local protests were much more common, attempts to stabilize and widen political mobiliization across time and space proved to be much more dependant on available organizational infrastructures and political opportunities at the national level. Here, apparent differences between European countries become evident. The fact that the European Union has been increasingly involved in the recalibration of national debates, policies and institutions allows us to understand that the European Union itself has become an additional opportunity and target for the mobilization of the jobless, yet, contributing in this way to the dilemma of collective action by the deprived.