violencia política en investigación

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Qual Sociol (2008) 31:221–230 DOI 10.1007/s11133-008-9109-x SPECIAL ISSUE ON POLITICAL VIOLENCE Research on Social Movements and Political Violence Donatella della Porta Published online: 15 July 2008 # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008 Abstract Attention to extreme forms of political violence in the social sciences has been episodic, and studies of different forms of political violence have followed different approaches, with “breakdown” theories mostly used for the analysis of rig

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  SPECIAL ISSUE ON POLITICAL VIOLENCE Research on Social Movements and Political Violence Donatella della Porta Published online: 15 July 2008 # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008 Abstract Attention to extreme forms of political violence in the social sciences has beenepisodic, and studies of different forms of political violence have followed different approaches, with “  breakdown ” theories mostly used for the analysis of right-wing radicalism,social movement theories sometimes adapted to research on left-wing radical groups, andarea study specialists focusing on ethnic and religious forms. Some of the studies on extremeforms of political violence that have emerged within the social movement tradition havenevertheless been able to trace processes of conflict escalation through the detailed exam-ination of historical cases. This article assesses some of the knowledge acquired in previousresearch approaching issues of political violence from the social movement perspective, aswell as the challenges coming from new waves of debate on terrorist and counterterrorist action and discourses. In doing this, the article reviews contributions coming from researchlooking at violence as escalation of action repertoires within protest cycles; politicalopportunity and the state in escalation processes; resource mobilization and violent organizations; narratives of violence; and militant constructions of external reality. Keywords Politicalviolence.SocialmovementsAttention to extreme forms of political violence in the social sciences has been episodic, withsome peaks in periods of high visibility of terrorist attacks, but little accumulation of results.There are several reasons for this. First, some of the research has been considered to be moreoriented towards developing antiterrorist policies than to a social science understanding of the phenomenon. In fact, “ many who have written about terrorism have been directly or indirectlyinvolved in the business of counterterrorism, and their vision has been narrowed and distorted bythe search foreffectiveresponses toterrorism … .[S]ocialmovementscholars,withveryfewexceptions, have said little about terrorism ” (Goodwin2004, p. 259). Second, studies of different forms of political violence have followed different approaches, with “  breakdown ” theories mostly used for the analysis of right-wing radicalism, social movement theoriessometimes adapted to research on left-wing radical groups, and area study specialists focusingon ethnic and religious forms. Third,andmostfundamentally,therehasbeenatendencytoreify Qual Sociol (2008) 31:221  –  230DOI 10.1007/s11133-008-9109-xD. della Porta ( * )Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute,Badia Fiesolana, Via dei Roccettini 9, 50016 San Domenico di Fiesole Firenze, Italye-mail: donatella.dellaporta@eui.eu  definitions of terrorism on the basis of political actors ’ decisions to use violence (Tilly2004). Infact, there is uneasiness in using a term which is not only politically highly contested, but alsoof doubtful heuristic value. Fourth, explanations tend to focus on either macro-level systemiccauses, meso-level organizational characteristics or micro-level individual motivations, withlittle communication between different levels of analysis (della Porta 1995).Some of the studies on extreme forms of political violence that have emerged within thesocial movement tradition have nevertheless been able to trace processes of conflict escalationthrough the detailed examination of historical cases. In what follows, I briefly assess some of the knowledge acquired in previous research as well as the challenges comingfromnew wavesof debate on terrorist and counterterrorist action and discourses. Violence as escalation of action repertoires within protest cycles Prior researchSocial movements research places political violence in the context of other forms of protest byusing Tilly ’ s concept of repertoires of action. A repertoire of action describes a limited set of forms of protest that are commonly used in a particular time and place. Typically, the repertoirewas learned from previous waves of protest in one country, but forms of action were alsoadopted and adapted cross-nationally. The choice of action repertoires has been considered as a relationaldynamic,developingfromtheinteractionsbetweenchallengersandélites(Tilly1978).Societiesoccasionallyexperienceperiodsofincreasedprotestactivityinvolvingoneormoreissues and many protesting groups. These clusters of protest activity, called protest cycles ,typically develop a sharp peak and then decline, which can be seen when the number of  protest events is plotted over time. The repertoire of action develops and changes during theintense interaction within a protest cycle. The analysis of protest cycles is particularly usefulfor an understanding of the development of political violence, as violence is frequently one of the outcomes of a cycle of protest, though not the only nor the most important one.Research on such different cases as the Italian and German left-libertarian movement families in the late 1960s and early 1970s, or the ethno-nationalist conflicts in NorthernIreland and the Basque countries, showed that violence escalated in much the same forms andaccording to much the same timing, during cycles of protest that developed in all those cases.This was true despite the fact that the cases involved different political and social actors. Theforms of action were initially disruptive because they were unconventional, but they were peaceful and had moderate aims, mainly claims for reform of the existing institutions.Although remaining mainly non-violent, the protest repertoires radicalized at the margins,especially during street battles with adversaries and the police (della Porta and Tarrow1987;Tarrow1989).Duringcyclesofprotest,thedevelopmentoftheformsofprotestactionsfollowsareciprocal process of innovation and adaptation, with each side responding to the other. As their adversaries adapted their tactics to counter those of the movement, the social movementschanged their tactics in order to continue to mobilize (McAdam1983). In the course of experimentation with different tactics, both dissidents and social control agents in the Italianand German cases tested “ hard ” techniques, thus creating resources for violence (della Porta 1995). The same happened in Northern Ireland and the Basque countries, where mainly peaceful social movements met not only state repression but also the paramilitary activities of death squads. This pattern also occurred to an even larger extent in weak democracies inLatin America (Waldmann1993; White1993; Wieviorka 1988). 222 Qual Sociol (2008) 31:221  –  230  However, after the 1970s, social movements within the left-libertarian culture underwent a learning process that primarily produced widespread support for nonviolence. A learning process on the part of both movement activists and the police defused the forms of conflict that had characterized the 1970s. In the 1980s, despite moments of sometimes severe tension, particularly during direct action such as the blocking of gates at military bases, peace activistsand police were experienced in avoiding escalation into violence (Rochon1988, pp. 186  –  7).More recently, although violence escalated in Seattle, and then in Prague, Gothenburg andGenoa, the large majority of activists of the global justice movement kept violence under control through tactical innovation: they created “ violence-free zones ” ; they divided marchesinto blocks, according to the tactics and location; and deployed protest marshals “ armed ” withvideo cameras in order to ensure a stricter implementation of nonviolent tactics (della Porta and Reiter 2004). New challengesThis does not mean, though, that the use of violence as a political means has declined overall.For socialmovementscholars with an interestin research onpolitical violence,thelarger world picture points toward the need to address types of social movements they are not usuallyfamiliar with, such as right-wing groups and religious fundamentalists. As Charles Tilly(2003, p. 58) sadly summarized, since 1945 “ the world as a whole has taken decisive, frighteningsteps away from its painfully achieved segregation between armies and civilian populations, between war and peace, between international and civil war, between lethal and non-lethalapplications of force. It has moved toward armed struggle within existing states and towardsstate-sponsored killing, deprivation, or expulsion of whole population categories. ” Clearlymore research is needed on these forms of primarily state violence that have until now havereceived little attention from social movement scholars. Violence in context: Political opportunity and the state Prior researchIn social movement studies, repertoires for protest have traditionally been seen as influenced by a political opportunity structure, consisting of both a formal, institutional aspect and aninformal, cultural one (Kriesi1989, p. 295). A major breakthrough in social movement research came when researchers found that social movements develop and succeed not  because they emerge to address new grievances, but rather because something in the larger  political context allows existing grievances to be heard. These contextual dimensions, called political opportunities, include regime shifts, periods of political instability, or changes in thecomposition of elites that may provide an opening for social movements. Conversely, a  political environment that was initially more open to social movements may close as the statetries to reassert control over protest, or as new groups come to power that are more hostile tothe demands of social movements.In general, research has shown that exclusive political systems and unstable democracies produce more radical opposition and violent escalation. Closing political opportunities shapedmobilization in Northern Ireland, as the inclusive and reformist mobilizing messages of the1960s Irish civil rights movement lost ground face to police repression, lack of politicalresponsiveness, and counter-mobilizations, bringing about an exclusivist nationalist frame inthe 1970s (Bosi2006). Moreover, right-wing political violence appears develop more when Qual Sociol (2008) 31:221  –  230 223   political opportunities are closed off by the state than by sustained grievances related to the presence of migrants, or economic strains (Koopmans2005).Researchinthenewsocialmovements(NSM)perspectivehasinparticularreflectedonhow political and social conditions facilitate the implosion of social actors into violence (Melucci1982; Wieviorka 1988). In Italy as well as in the Basque countries, the use of violence has  been interpreted as signal of a closure of the collective actors on themselves, and their inability to develop into a social movement or to revitalize a social movement that has begunto decline.Particularly relevant in determining the evolution of radicalization processes are the tacticsof  policing protest  and more generally the conditions under which public order and securityare maintained (for a definition of protest policing, see della Porta and Reiter 1998,2004). The development of political violence in the 1970s interacted with paramilitary policing of social unrest that triggered processes of radicalization among social movements. In Italy, the police weremoreprepared for  “ communist-led riots ” than well-organizedsmallgroup violence(Reiter 1998). Interactions on the street and other forms of repression took particularlydramatic forms in the Basque country between the end of Francoist regime and the early phases of transition to democracy. Even after transition to democracy had been completed,the Spanish local authorities lacked popular legitimacy in the Basque countries. Similarly in Northern Ireland, the traditional colonial approach taken by the Royal Ulster Constabularyimpacted on movement strategies, as well as on the character of organizations and the waysin which they perceived state responses (Ellison and Smyth2000).Encounters between the movements and the state apparatuses produced radicalization in a wide variety of movement cases. The very conditions that favored the escalation of violence inthe left-libertarian movements often stimulated radical counter-movements as well, and thusnational “ radical sectors ” composed of left-wing as well as right-wing radical groups, violent movements and violent counter-movements. This development was characteristic especially of Italy, where from the very beginning of the protest cycle, the student activists clashed withneo-Fascists and, throughout the seventies, brutal conflicts escalated among young members of right-wing and left-wing non-underground groups who fired at each other right in front of highschools (della Porta 1995). Racist groups, Unionists, and Loyalists used terror against civilrights activists as well as ethno-nationalists in the US, Northern Ireland and Spain, respectively.The policing of protest derives from several characteristics of the police forces themselves:their military versus civil organizational structures, the police culture, the type of training, andthe degree of professionalization and specialization. These elements influence police strategiesas well asthe police knowledge abouttheir own roleandtheirown environment, affectingtheir assessment of the rights of demonstrators. National structures such as police organization,characteristics ofthejudiciary,codes oflaws, andconstitutionalrights set constraints onprotest  policing and, more broadly, institutional reactions to social movements. But police strategiesalso and even primarily depend upon political choices. They must be studied in relation to thechanging political opportunity structure. New challengesAnewchallengeforresearchonthecontextualopportunitiesforviolencearisesfromtheglobaldimensions of contemporary forms of political violence, and from the discourse that developsaround them. In the field of political violence as well as in social movement studies moregenerally, research focuses on the nation-state as the central unit of analysis. This is no longer tenable, as both terrorism and counterterrorism go global, and geopolitical issues as well aswars, diasporas and the like acquire more and more explanatory power. The effects of  224 Qual Sociol (2008) 31:221  –  230
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