This research area examines the sociology of social movements and activism. It engages with the academic literature on political behaviours and pays particular attention to the sociology of activism and forms of political engagement and participation. Research projects in this area use longitudinal approaches to carry out processual analyses of activist careers, which are could be seen as the CRAPUL trademark. Based on this perspective, general theoretical and methodological proposals are developed both on the drivers of activist engagement and disengagement, and on the biographical consequences of activism. The CRAPUL research centre is committed to breaking down the barriers between research areas that are too often examined in isolation, to study collective action driven both by social movements and by trade unions, political parties, community organisations and interest groups, wherever they stand in the political space.
In the same vein, the centre’s research is part of the move towards more interdisciplinary working found in area studies, promoting a comparative approach anchored in disciplinary debates and based on a detailed understanding of the field and its historical roots. It also examines the forms of political participation that can be observed at the national and regional level in liberal democracies (in Switzerland, France and especially Italy) and on partisan and community activism in authoritarian contexts, in the Middle East and North Africa.
In general terms, the research carried out at CRAPUL pays particular attention to how social power relationships (in terms of class, gender, race and age) are interconnected and entwined in collective action. This cross-disciplinary dimension refers to the notion of intersectionality and the differentiated uses to which it is put in the social sciences, underpinning several research projects on the gendered structure of methods of political engagement in activist practices. In a similar vein and by extension, a number of studies consider the issue of political identities, i.e. the identity-related dimensions at work in the mobilisation process and the claims made by social movements.
Finally, insofar as it sits at the crossroads of the sociology of law and the sociology of social movements, this research area produces projects on the uses of the legal repertoire in collective action; in this instance, the analysis focuses on the use of the “arm of the law” in defending certain social groups (migrants, workers, tenants, women, minorities, etc.) and the way in which action in the legal field affects the promotion of their cause in the public arena.