European / International Joint Ph.D. in
Social Representation and Communication

Social Change, Political Arena and Social Representations of the relation Citizens-Institutions: polemical representations in action in two social movements (No-TAV and Occupy Wall Street)

The investigation concerns a new research area related to the investigation of the social representations of the relations between citizens and institutions in the political arena and the perception by social actors of their capacity to influence each other in the public sphere, orienting actions and policies. To this end, two exemplary case studies on recent social movements with different characterizations will be investigated by means of media analysis:

  1. the first movement (No TAV) with a focus on polemical representations concerning the EU’s political decision to cross the French-Italian border with a high speed train transportation system. The various groups are positioned on the basis of their contrasting views of the environmental impact on the local community in Valle Susa versus national economic interests concerning the inclusion of Italy in the new European high speed train transportation system;
  2. the second movement (Occupy WALL Street) – characterized by a rapid expansion from the US  to the global scale – with a focus on issues concerning economic policies and the effect of the financial crisis throughout the world, and within various cultural contexts in different world regions where the movement has assumed different forms of expression and styles of behaviour.

The two case studies show the epistemological interest of identifying interconnections between the theory of social representations and the theory of active minorities in empirical field investigations attentive to the phenomenology of the genesis, development and potential decline or deviation of such movements from their statu nascendi to collective organized actions, and their potential influence on political decisions at the local-global scale.

Central to the empirical study is the attention paid to the new media and the use of social networks as strategic tools to organize collective actions and share representations of the reality concerning the relations among citizens, politics and community/world views