Civil Sphere and Radicalization

THE CIVIL SPHERE AND RADICALIZATION ~ Conference and Book Project

Members of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, 2017. Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Hosted by the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL),

University of Aberdeen

Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd October, 2017

Constitutional democracies by definition afford a range of opportunities for political expression including protest. Why, then, do some movements choose to engage in more radical forms of protest, such as civil disobedience, hacktivism and jihadi terrorism, and to what effect? Our conference will transform understanding of radical protest, first by cross-fertilizing existing debates through comparing species of radical protest, and second, by explaining radical protest not only in terms of the perceived inadequacy of existing institutional channels for dissent, but also and crucially, drawing on Jeffrey Alexander’s The Civil Sphere, in terms of the lack of response from the mainstream social movements which Alexander dubs the “civil sphere”. For Alexander, Northern media’s response to Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience shows how civil spheres can respond sympathetically to radical protest, recognizing a movement’s causes as “civil”.  Our speakers will focus on the role of established civil spheres in producing as well as responding to radical protest.

Special thanks to Eve Hayes de Kalaf, conference coordinator for this event at the University of Aberdeen and to CCS Junior Fellow Anne Marie Champagne for her assistance with the book project.