Social movements in a crisis context: three case studies from Portugal
David Cairns (ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon)
Nuno Almeida Alves (ISCTE-IUL)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores social movements in Portugal, with three case studies from the EC-funded MYPLACE project. While different in terms of their modus operandi and socio-political orientation, the three cases share an economic crisis context, the significance of which is discussed via ethnography.
Paper long abstract:
Youth political participation in Portugal context is traditionally regarded as somewhat limited in scope, at least in respect to involvement in formal politics. However, the economic crisis and austerity measures enacted by the Portuguese government are now provoking a political response from young people, albeit largely in terms of informal activism. This paper explores this development via evidence gathered during 2011-2013 as part of the European Commission funded MYPLACE (Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement) project. Following a contextualization of the social and political context facing Portuguese youth, the paper presents three examples of different forms of contemporary political mobilization. This includes a case study (Catholic Youth Labour Movement) which provides a perspective on how an established youth activism platform is responding to the crisis, and two further cases illustrating more recent developments in respect to community politics (Barreiro Popular Assembly) and opposition to precarious working conditions (Inflexible Precarious Workers) respectively. The concluding part of the paper not only notes the sometimes literal integration of these social movements via joint participation in the wave of anti-austerity mass street protests but also in respect to common political goals centring on opposition to cuts in wages and public services and the degradation of youth working conditions, issues that are fundamentally ignored in the agendas of mainstream political parties in Portugal.
Youth and social movements