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“Enough!” – Editor’s Note

0 Comments 🕔02.Oct 2013

This article is part of our Enough! feature on Europe’s exploding social movements.

Enough

by Casiana Ionita and Saygun Gokariksel

Europe has been in crisis – financially, socially, and politically – for more than four years. The World of Work Report 2013, published by the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, underscores that the risk of ‘social unrest’ is now highest among European Union (EU) countries, with a 12 percentage points increase since 2006–2007, a rise that “is likely to be due to the policy responses to the ongoing sovereign debt crisis and their impacts on people’s lives and perceptions of well-being.”[1]

Indeed, the past few years have seen a remarkable number of political protests taking place throughout Europe and beyond. From Portugal to Turkey and from Greece to Sweden, people have taken to the streets, protesting against government proposals, laws, and actions, especially those related to neo-liberal capitalism. These protests have expressed popular discontent with austerity, dispossession, corruption, and increasing authoritarianism and conservatism, among other things. While they have signaled the hope for a new society and way of living, the protests have also raised crucial questions regarding the objective and subjective conditions of the formation of a collective will that is capable of leading to radical political and economic change.

For this inaugural CritCom special feature we invited researchers working in different fields to discuss, analyze, and contextualize the specific issues that have been at the heart of recent protests. Drawing on their varied backgrounds, contributors to the Forum set out to answer such questions as:

  • What challenges does one face when researching or reflecting on recent and ongoing social movements or uprisings? What do the protests reveal about the sufficiency of methodologies or notions that are commonly invoked to make sense of them (e.g., middle class, civil society, democracy, authoritarianism, neo-liberalism, populism)?
  • What does the current wave of protests (Occupy movements, popular uprisings, and the general rise of right-wing populist movements) reveal about the current economic crisis, popular sovereignty, and the prevailing model of democracy? What do these protests suggest about the prospects of the EU and of Europe in general?
  • How do national and local protests influence or draw inspiration from one another? Are there any connections among social movements in Europe or among the protests happening outside of Europe (the Occupy movement in the United States, the recent protests in Brazil and Mexico, or the Arab Spring) and the recent protests in Europe?

We will be updating this special feature regularly with new contributions, so we invite you to check back periodically for new perspectives on recent and ongoing events in Europe.

 

Casiana Ionita has a PhD in French from Columbia University and is the Chair of the CritCom Editorial Committee. She has published articles on the social role of cinema in early twentieth-century France and on representations of the Paris Commune of 1871. She is currently based in London where she works as a consultant, translator, and independent researcher.

Saygun Gökarıksel is a doctoral candidate in the Anthropology Department at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. His current research looks at the sociopolitical and judicial life of Polish Secret Service files in the larger context of capitalist transformation in contemporary Eastern Europe. He has been engaged with social movements and popular uprisings in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of the world. His writings have appeared in various Romanian, Polish, Turkish, and U.S. journals.

This article is part of our Enough! feature on Europe’s exploding social movements.


[1] International Labour Organization, World of Work Report 2013: Repairing the Economic and Social Fabric, (Geneva: International Institute for Labour Studies, 2013), 14, available at: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_214476.pdf

 

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