9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN25 Social Movements

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Transnational Activism (I) Building I, 1E3

Collective Identity and transnationalism

Between 2003 and 2007, Central America was confronted to a wave of unprecedented mobilizations. These mobilizations joined a dynamics of contestation of a project introduced by the United States in order to create a Free Trade Area between the United States, Central America and The Dominican Republic. As countries of Central America are simultaneously confronted to a chronic economic instability which affects mainly the poorest populations, the prospect of an asymmetric agreement with the United States created important grievances within the society. It seems paradoxical to apply a transnationalisation of grievances against the CAFTA-DR considering the national character of the legal ratification process and the national impacts of this agreement (agriculture for Nicaragua, technologies and communication for Costa Rica, economy and investments for Salvador and Honduras).
As a consequence, we can first wonder whether the "anti-cafta" social movement is a transnational social movement (TSM). Besides, as some elements of the mobilization are of a different nature regarding the previous mobilizations, we can put forward some hypothesis about the identity carried out by the movement, its organizations and its peculiarities. From that viewpoint, several points are central in our study. The dynamics of transnationalisation will be the subject of a first development, by presenting the characteristics of the social movement and the emergence of a "regional political opportunity structure" (RPOS). We also approach more technical elements relative to the exchanges between national social movements, such as the cross-border diffusion, the inclusion in a transnational coalition. The last part explains how the reactivation of the mobilization, noticed in the protest cycles, results from the building-up of a "community of solidarity" in Central America. The conceptualization of this "community of solidarity" rests on predefined theoretical elements such as the "implicit consensus", "ritual strategies" and the institutionalization of solidarity assertion.
In that case study, we are based on structural social movement theories (Tilly, Tarrow, McAdam) as well as constructivist approaches of collective action (Melucci, Jasper, Goodwin and Snow). Our very deep purpose will be further to develop a new articulated approach of social movement theories and regional integration ones.