26.03. - 27.03. 2018


Max Weber Centre

Steinplatz 2 | 99085 Erfurt

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    For a long time, sociology assumed that one core feature of modern societies would be a growing effectiveness of egalitarian norms; this hope has also shaped the debate on globalization. Today, it is clear that this kind of success can not at all be taken for granted. Also, it cannot even be secured by a formal institutionalization of such norms (e.g. in legal form, and in public bureaucracies); as the neoinstitutionalist sociology of organizations has shown, this kind of institutionalization can easily lead to egalitarian norms being implemented in a purely ‘ceremonial’ way. Hence, in order to explain the social effectiveness or ineffectiveness of egalitarian norms, a crucial question is how, and under what circumstances, such norms actually gain local plausibility. In order to find out why this sometimes happens, one strategic research object are the processes through which egalitarian protest movements emerge or break down (or fail to get off the ground in the first place). This applies, in particular, to movements in the so-called global South, and especially to the precarious mobilizations of the non-privileged: In these cases, the relevant problems of explanation, as well as the relevant social mechanisms, can be seen much more clearly. In our workshop, we’ll discuss case studies on egalitarian movements in the global South and its border zones –  as well as contrast cases where hierarchical structures have so much local plausibility that critical mobilizations are almost impossible. We would like to discuss questions such as: When and how are grievances articulated via egalitarian categories? Which roles do protest movements play in these processes? Which theoretical concepts are particularly useful for grasping how egalitarian norms gain, or fail to gain, local plausibility?