Research topic: History of social movements
Social movements have had an enormous influence on our present-day society. By acting in unison, people have been able to influence their life situations and promote causes they consider important.
These movements have acted as a counterweight to other forms of extra-parliamentary power. The classic modern period (starting in the 19th century) saw the emergence of interest organisations such as the labour movement, farmers' organisations and various women's organisations – groups that often had clear idealistic objectives. In high modern Western society (from the 1960s onwards) "new social movements" have emerged, such as the environmental movement and organisations promoting minority rights.
There are several key questions. Why did social movements emerge and grow? Were these movements mobilised primarily by self-interest or moral objectives? Who has belonged to these movements? How have these movements thought and acted?
Do the "new social movements" differ from their predecessors? Has the era of collective movements ended in the Western world, and as such are we in a post-modern society? Are we moving towards greater individualism or towards the emergence of many sub-groups?
On the other hand, we can ask whether a third round of organisation is emerging – this time on a transnational level. Members of this new movement are opposed to globalisation, which they consider to be taking place on terms set by multinational corporations. But at the same time the movement is itself global in nature.