Political Activism and Social Movements

Social Movements Social Change Large Square

Research in this stream explores how collective actors develop practices and ideas in order to challenge norms and bring about social and political change. Our work is necessarily inter-disciplinary - spanning sociology, political science, cultural studies, oral history - and is motivated by a profound commitment to placing social agency, democratic pluralism, and participatory citizenship at the heart of the social sciences. It is organised into two closely linked research clusters: social movements, and political activism.

Social Movements 
Our work on collective action focuses particularly on how social movements develop public practices. By paying attention to the behaviours, ideas, beliefs, emotions, identities, choices and strategies of people engaged in collective action, we seek to understand how cultural and political change is brought about; how it happens, why it happens and who makes it happen. Our work examines both movements 'from below' and movements 'from above' – that is collective action by powerful actors.  It explores how such movements develop and cohere, and how they interact with wider social forces such as globalisation, increasing (in)equality, technological development, and so on – forces that social movements may themselves have set in motion.

Political Activism
Work in this stream focuses on the analysis of political activism in contemporary societies. Through the use of life narratives we analyse in which way specific actions and policies impact upon societies, and in particular the way that individual and collective agents negotiate these impacts. Here again, we pay attention to the opinions, emotions, and discourses of 'subaltern actors', enabling analysis of the material strategies they develop, the identity formations and evolutions they undergo, and the stories they construct in order to relate their multiple experiences.  

Dr. Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla

Dr Elisabeth Schimpfossl
Dr Ebru Soytemel 
Dr Vidu Badigannavar

External Research Associates

Dr Demelza Jones' research interests include migration, diasporas, (super)diversity, religion and inequalities. She is currently involved in two research projects. One looks at migrant and minority-ethnic Christian congregations’ use of Anglican church spaces. The other explores diverse young people’s engagement with cultural heritage across nine countries in Europe and Asia.

Narzanin Massoumi is a British Academy postdoctoral fellow (2016–19) in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath. She is co-convenor of the British Sociological Association Race and Ethnicity Study Group, the co-editor of What is Islamophobia? Racism, Social Movements and the State (2017) and the author of Muslim Women, Social Movements and the ‘War on Terror’ (2015).


David Miller is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath. He was RCUK Global Uncertainties leadership fellow (2013–16) conducting a project to examine the construction, use and impact of expertise on ‘terrorism’. He has written widely on propaganda, spin and lobbying and was co-founder of Public Interest Investigations, a non-profit company of which Spinwatch and Powerbase are projects. Recent publications include: A Century of Spin: How Public Relations Became the Cutting Edge of Corporate Power (co-author, Pluto Press, 2008); The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre: Giving Peace a Chance? (co-author, 2013); Critical Terrorism Studies since 11 September 2001: What has been Learned? (co-editor, 2014); Stretching the Sociological Imagination: Essays in Honour of John Eldridge (co-editor, 2015); The Henry Jackson Society and the Degeneration of British Neoconservatism (co-author, 2015); The Israel Lobby and the European Union (co-author, 2016); The New Governance of Addictive Substances and Behaviours (co-author, 2017); Impact of Market Forces on Addictive Substances and Behaviours: The Web of Influence of Addictive Industries (co-author, 2017); What is Islamophobia? Racism, Social Movements and the State (co-editor, 2017).