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CfP IASC Workshop 'Social mobilization and the commons: a virtuous circle?'

IASC Workshop ‘Social mobilization and the commons: a virtuous circle?’ (Barcelona, Spain, June 21-22, 2018)


The frontiers of theory and research on the commons have notably evolved in the last years. At the forefront of such evolution is the study of political struggles. Social movements are one means through which power and political struggles manifest in commons-management contexts. Even more, social mobilization and community-based management of commons are two paradigmatic instances of collective action, the interaction of which has been barely explored so far. The common pool resource (CPR) tradition has mainly focused on the local conditions under which natural resource users can cooperatively manage their shared resources. The social movement (SM) tradition includes a number of strands concerned with different characteristics of mobilization and their impact on policy. To be sure, CPR and other commons studies reporting on social mobilization processes exist, but there is no systematic dialogue among those studies, nor between those studies and the social movement literature.

Aims and goals

This workshop aims to create a much needed space for knowledge sharing among scholars or non-academics interested in the intersection between social movements and commons. The workshop has been designed to cover a variety of empirical settings, methods and epistemological approaches. The papers may be either conceptual or empirical, and may address questions of general concern to this dynamic, or specifically related to either movements’ influence on commons, or commons’ influence on movements. Questions to be addressed include:

  • Which positive/negative feedbacks exist between the commons and social movements?
  • To which extent can social movement and CPR theory speak to each other?
  • How do social movements influence commons management?
  • Under what conditions do social movements successfully transition into long-enduring community-based commons initiatives?
  • To what extent and how do existing or latent commons serve as the basis for social mobilization?
  • Which configurations of actors, geographies, actions, discourses… characterize “commons-based movements”?
  • Are there fruitful comparisons between commons-based movements in rural and urban contexts?

The workshop aims to accomplish several goals, including

  • high-quality dialogue and collaborative learning that can strengthening participants’ ongoing initiatives on this topic;
  • the compilation of high-quality contributions for a special issue in a top-ranked journal (e.g., World Development, GEC, Journal of Peasant Studies);
  • the drafting of a collective paper synthesizing and setting the agenda for the years to come.

Workshop organization

The workshop will consist of 6 panel sessions, a public opening session including two key note speakers, and a closing plenary including a round table among four invited discussants.

The panel sessions (4 presenters per session) will be sequential and organized to maximize discussion (5 min. presentation + 15 min. discussion per presentation).

  • All attendants will need to commit to give written feedback to the other participants.
  • They will be given 5 minutes to open the discussion of each presenter.
  • They will be also responsible for moderating the corresponding discussion.

The closing plenary will include a round table among three invited speakers who will address key insights from the panels with the aim of setting the agenda for the years to come.

Timeline (changed dates!)


> February 25, 2018: deadline abstract submission (max. 150 words) via; if you have any questions or problems submitting your abstract, please contact us via and the organizers (e-mail.
> March 10, 2018: notification of selected contributors and participants (max. of 25 people)
> May 10, 2018: submission deadline full papers/extended abstracts
> May 20, 2018: papers assigned for written feedback to attendants
> May 30, 2018: publication of program