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You are here: Home / Events / International seminars / Axe 4 : Contexts, situations and cross-views on sociological practices / Workshop "Globalized capitalism, new collective action and struggle for public recognition in Europe and in China"

Workshop "Globalized capitalism, new collective action and struggle for public recognition in Europe and in China"

March 20, 2015 Professeur Liu Neng, Peking Université, Department of sociology, Triangle laboratory, ENS lyon

We have entered into a new globalized capitalist regime in which the wage-earning societies went through dramatic changes while inequalities between social positions have increased. Access to resources and goods is becoming less and less common, while more and more people are lacking resources and are facing the risk of the public space material poverty, and are in the same time less and less protected and cared by the welfare system.

Mass unemployment, growing uncertainties in work relations and labor, the decline of institution, the recomposition of new institutional forms, everything concurred in Western Europe to point out a modernity all about the wavering of an actor forced to define again and again his place and identity. On one hand, social, economic and ethnical inequalities keep growing along with new forms of exploitation, reject, stigmatization and even destitution of the “weakest”. On the other hand, cultural domination, recognition denial and disrespect are creating situations of injustice. Exploited workers, young people facing high uncertainties, migrants and ethnic minorities are subject to racial discriminations, express recognition demands which can break into public space at any time like social movements, riots, rebellions. In such instances, they force a redistribution of social, moral and public recognition and they redefine the hierarchy of identities.

In China conflicts around recognition are expressed in controlled forms, particularly resistance movements among peasants, workers and city dwellers linked to the middle classes. Social conflicts and collective struggles in China are centered on property rights. Property rights are conflict-laden because of farmland evictions, demolitions which cause eviction and drive to moving out leading to an insecure access to private property in cities. New forms of collective actions are dominating these conflicts against the State, local governments and private actors, while being part of the shaping of civil society. Recently sociologists have been focusing on three new forms of collective action against health insecurity and risks environment, and via Internet.

In Europe and in China recognition demands has increased with the rising number of conflicting socialization and recognitions situations, as the actors had to keep redefining their place and identities. As violence and sufferings have become more common in public space, recognition demands are upheld disclosing structural emergencies, anomie areas, all symptoms of social, cultural and economic breaching. Recognition demands are indeed expressed in many different ways in these two contexts. These recognition demands are arising from social, economic and ethnical inequalities and the experience of disrespect, social domination and contempt.


9:00 am-9:20 am: Introduction by Laurence Roulleau-Berger, Research Director at CNRS, Co- Director of the LIA, Triangle: Capitalisms, new collective action and struggle for public recognition in Europe and in China

9:20 am- 10:05 am: Liu Neng, Professor at Department of Sociology, Peking University: The Double-Face of Resistance and Riots in Contemporary China: Political Expression Model versus Material Defense Model


This lecture wants to give an explanation of the nature of waves of Chinese collective actions after 1989. Political opportunity, grievance production and interpretation, and a cultural mentality of crude justice (with the cultural belief of violence as a vehicle for restoring justice), among other sources, have been singled out as three main intriguing factors of Chinese insurgencies. Thus, factors such as movement organization, behavioral habits (socialized civil participation), and the legal status of citizenship, have failed to forecast, or explain the rise of Chinese collective actions. After this theoretical clarification, three typical Chinese ways of collective expression have been analyzed in order to understand the POLITICAL dimension of contemporary Chinese society: 1) collective petitioning; 2) massive grassroots riots; and 3) middle class homeowner movements, including NIMBY movements.

Liu Neng is currently professor and PhD supervisor at Beijing University’s sociology department, and deputy director of Center for Sociological Research and Development Studies, Beijing University. He received his PhD in sociology from Beijing University at 1998, and BA and MA in sociology from Nankai University [Tianjin, China]. His main research interests include: social movements, urban studies, deviance and social problems, and youth studies. His most influential academic publications include: “Grievance Interpretation, Mobilization Structure, and Rational Choice: On the Future of Chinese Urban Collective Actions” Open Times, 2004; “AIDS, Stigma, and Social Discrimination” Chinese Sociological Review, 2006; “Collective Actions in Changing Contemporary Chinese Society: An Overview of Three Waves of Collective Actions in the Last Three Decades”. Academia Bimestris, 2009 (4): 146-152;Perceiving Local Governmental Processes from a Social Network and a Hierarchical Perspective: A Case Study of North Town Social Sciences Litterature Press, Beijing, 2008. The Strength of Alliance. Beijing: Peking University Press, 2012 ; with Di, Lei, “Social Interactions and Community Identity in a Heterogeneous Residential Enclave in Suburban Beijing: The Case Study of Sha Village”. Journal of Harbin Institute of Technology (Social Sciences Edition), 2014 (2): 25-29.

10:05 am-10:50 am: Lilian Mathieu, Research Director at CNRS, Centre Max Weber: Material struggles as struggles for recognition

The analysis current called "new social movements" has been developed in Europe from the 1970s on an assumption: that "materialist" causes driven by the labor movement and claims like the improvement of living conditions would be condemned to disappear and to be replaced by unprecedent "post-materialist" causes more based on identity or moral issues. This way to oppose - but also to rank - claims of social movements appears incorrect today. Contributions by recognition philosphies as an attentive study of social conflicts (past as present) shows that material demands and dignity requests are inseparable.

Lilian Mathieu is sociologist and Research Director at the CNRS (Centre Max Weber, ENS de Lyon). Specialized on social movements, he has published La Démocratie protestataire. Mouvements sociaux et politique aujourd’hui (Presses de Sciences Po, 2011), L’Espace des mouvements sociaux (Le Croquant, 2012) and La Fin du tapin. Sociologie de la croisade pour l’abolition de la prostitution (François Bourin, 2014).

11:00 am-11:45 am : Sophie Béroud, Assistant Professor, Department of political sciences,University Lyon 2, Triangle : Workers, conflicts and mobilizations in Europe


The hypothesis of a decline of the strikes, especially in the industrial sector, has become a dominant reading frame in France since the late 1980s. Deep restructuring of the production structure, via the reduction of some parts of the industry, the development of outsourcing, the destabilization of work collectives and the diffusion of precarious jobs are phenomena that fuel the idea of a strong tendency to reflux and the marginalization of the strike practice in the private sector. We show in this paper that the reality is more complex. Strikes have not disappeared from the private sector, even if they have changed. Other sectors, such as trade, are experiencing unprecedented struggles, led notably by precarious workers.

Sophie Béroud is a Lecturer in political science in the University of Lyon 2 and member of Triangle Centre for research (UMR 5206, ENS-LSH, IEP, Lyon 2). She is a specialist in the study of strikes and in the contemporary transformation of French trade unionism. Among her last publications : «Une campagne de syndicalisation au féminin. Une expérience militante dans le secteur de l'aide à domicile », Travail, genre et société, n°30, 2013/2, pp. 111-128 ; « Perspectives critiques sur la participation dans le monde du travail : éléments de repérage et de discussion », Participations, vol. 1, n°5, 2013, pp. 5-32 ; « The organization of the unemployed in Spain : local and fragmented dynamics » in Didier Chabanet, Jean Faniel, ed., The Mobilization of the unemployed in Europe : from acquiescence to protest ?, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 p.155-174 ; Quand le travail se précarise, quelles résistances collectives ?, Paris, La Dispute, 2009 (co-direction avec Paul Bouffartigue).

11:45 am-12:45 pm: Discussion by Camille Hamidi, Assistant Professor, Department of political sciences, Triangle, University Lyon 2 


Program PDF