During recent years, scholarly attention has been given to civil society in Eastern Europe, and to a certain degree also to the social movements and political protests of the region. Little attention has however been directed towards the impact and role of radical leftist groups in these newly democratized post-communist political systems.
In social movement research it has been noted that anarchist and autonomist groups have played a prominent role for the broader left and new social movements in Western countries since the late 1960s, often appearing as the broader movement’s ’radical flank’. Albeit being a marginal political phenomenon, the ideas, strategies and forms of protests of these radical groups have many times – directly or indirectly – influenced more established organizations, e.g. political parties and trade unions.Especially since the 1990s, anarchist and autonomist activism have been visible through ’street parties’, squatting and during the protests of the Global Justice Movement.
The purpose of this project is to make a comparative analysis of anarchist and autonomist movements in four countries in the Baltic region – Denmark, Germany, Poland and Russia – focusing on their role in contemporary politics. In what respects can one find differences and/or similarities in how these countries’ movements have developed? How can differences or similarities be explained by structural openings or closures in the polities in question, both regarding the movements’ interplay with the state and other political actors, and their ability to intervene in conflicts over the dominant meanings of democracy and politics?
The comparative analysis will be guided by a focus on (1) how the movements’ strategies and alliances are used to achieve political influence, (2) how the movements’ highlight and act upon political and cultural tensions, and (3) how the transnational diffusion of movement ideas and practices impact different national contexts.
Using a comparative framework based in social movement theory, we will conduct interviews, analyze texts and do fieldwork within movement organizations, at events and meeting places. The research group is made up of scholars with extensive experience of research in the countries of the study. The project will be undertaken within the research environment for studies of contemporary social movements in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe, at the School of Social Sciences, Södertörn University.