4:00 PM16:00

Why Social Movements Matter (Paris)

Why social movements matter


Laurence Cox presents his recent book Why Social Movements Matter, written at the Collège in the framework of the initiative Mouvements sociaux à l’âge global. The 21st century sees social movements written large on the map of the world, while journalists, intellectuals, novelists, celebrities and politicians invoke specific movements as current events or for dramatic effect. Yet the significance of widespread popular mobilisation as such is barely a subject of public reflection other than in dismissive and misdirected comments on “populism”.


Why should the wider public care about social movements in general, and how can they grasp them? How can party-political militants understand their workings? What should scholars and students in other fields know, and how have movements shaped our intellectual world? Too often scholars of social movements – in the English-speaking world at least – allow the accidents of university processes and cultural trends to decide the future (if any) of the field. But can we justify our work to these wider audiences and position the study of movements as a central intellectual tool to understanding the world we live in? This talk presents some of the issues raised by trying to convince others that social movements matter.


Laurence Cox is Associate Professor in Sociology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and research associate at the Collège d’Etudes Mondiales. He has published over 150 academic pieces on social movements and co-edits the open-access journal Interface. He has just published Why Social Movements Matter (Rowman and Littlefield 2018) and Voices of 1968 (Pluto 2018); his co-authored The Irish Buddhist: the Forgotten Monk who Faced Down the British Empire is forthcoming in spring 2020 with Oxford University Press.

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Why Social Movements Matter (Belfast again)
1:00 PM13:00

Why Social Movements Matter (Belfast again)

Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics

Social movements and popular struggle are a central part of today’s world, but often neglected or misunderstood by media commentary, as well as by experts in other fields. In an age when struggles over climate change, women’s rights, racism, austerity politics, warfare and surveillance are central to the future of our societies, we urgently need to understand them better.

In many ways social movements are part of our everyday lives, though often not recognised as such. They have shaped and reshaped the social world dramatically over the past quarter-millennium, with a long and complex relationship between social movements, political parties and the left. Movements have their own processes of learning and theorising which represent a very different way of thinking; partly because of this, they have made major contributions to intellectual life.

Laurence Cox, one of Europe’s leading social movement researchers, will give a short talk around these themes, drawing his new book Why Social Movements Matter. The talk will be followed by discussion.

Copies of the book are available in No Alibis Bookstore (83 Botanic Avenue).

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We make our own history: social movements and social change in Ireland (Belfast)
7:30 PM19:30

We make our own history: social movements and social change in Ireland (Belfast)

Féile an Earraigh / West Belfast Spring Festival

Beidh caint agus ceardlann againn leis an ghníomhaí agus údár iomráiteach Laurence Cox ag amharc ar mhodhanna agus straitéisí le haghaigh gluaiseachtaí agus athruithe sóisialta anseo in Éirinn. Is taighdeoir gluaiseachtaí sóisialta díograiseach é Laurence Cox a bhfuil suim ar leith aige i “ngluaiseacht na ngluaiseachtaí” domhanda agus streachailtí frith-dhéine, eagrú lucht oibre in Éirinn, milieux ghulaiseacht shóisialta agus frithchultúir, Búdaithe luath Iatharacha san Áis, taighde teoirice agus páirtíochta an ghníomhaí.

Laurence Cox is an engaged social movements researcher interested in the global “movement of movements” and anti-austerity struggles, working-class community organising in Ireland, social movement milieux and counter-cultures, early western Buddhists in Asia, activist theorising and participatory research.

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