Digital media and social mobilizations: exploring the new frontiers of policing. By Jérôme Ferret

Can digital media predict riots?

Do they allow a better understanding of the internal dynamic between conflict and violence (violence is the contrary of conflict, which does allow a negotiation) in a mobilization and the possibility of violence avoidance in most social mobilizations, which can be violent in a deep social crisis context? Why this question?

We have studied this dynamic between the youth and the police in urban areas in the past years (Community Policing, Urban Violence in both France and Spain). Recently, within our “Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches”), HDR which will be defended in September 2014 in front of an international jury at EHESS, the PI has already carried out an extensive research on such issues, and he has shown that it is indeed possible, from a sociologist viewpoint, to “predict” upcoming events and to identify explicating factors leading to urban violence during social mobilizations, such as mismanagement, bad communication between the police organizations.

We have already been able to model the role of reasonings and bad police intelligence, and shown that such observations can lead to violence and counter-reasonings, before, during and after the mobilizations. The challenge is now to more precisely know how the proliferation and the naturalization of these emerging digital networks in an informational society can or not modify the confrontational dynamics between the police forces and the youth in the street and what leads to violence / non-violence in social mobilizations.

State of the art: limitations

The rather natural tendency to describe the relations between police’s forces and digital mobilizations is first sensationalist and catastrophic prediction journalism but also “technological doom watch” that heavily feeds general thoughts on issues such as cybercrime or cyber-activism as for instance the “Anonymous movement”, such as threats and punishment related to the malicious “misuse” of the new internet technologies. In the meantime, Surveillance Studies or New Critical Studies are denouncing the intrusion of police forces in the world of social media and the dangers of a society of total surveillance.

Far from these general opinion and public media classical attitudes the new line of research we want to explore and pursue with this project aims at establishing a new contribution towards the understanding of social media effects on the production and organization of social mobilizations. In fact, without including the more technical publications written for instance by computer scientists on the emerging social medial tools and platforms, in the social sciences literature alone, some previous works can be identified that has actually prepared the ground and paved the way for the issues we want to address in our own research approach. Much has already been written on social control and policing of physical spaces, whether public, private, hybrid. The Social mobilizations studies or Contest Policing Studies do not take into account the role of police forces and policing in general in an interactional way.

Social sciences remains confined to rather classical visions of policing of social mobilizations and contestations and even if the Arab spring or the « Indignados » movement have led to the slow emergence of new studies in 2012, social sciences research still does remain short of arguments when requested to address such a phenomenon.

Furthermore, in the currently available literature, social sciences researchers are not yet considering the notion of digital interaction and co-construction between: a) actors (often youths), their critical sense, combined with technologies, uses and meaning production in a real continuity between real life and the virtual world, and b) interactions between actors who are socialized in part with the use of social media / the cyber world and the social control by States and mainly police forces in a dynamic and empirical situations like social mobilizations.

Therefore, Social mobilizations sociology, and in particular the policing of mass recognized that it has not yet sufficiently entered into the details of this dynamic, and is aware of its main focus being on physical ripostes, in particular of police violence, while the more symbolic dimensions have so far been forgotten, or considered « out of the frame ».

The hypothesis developed by Gary T Marx but also and especially those promoted by Randall Collins are offering some promising research perspectives. On the other side, both digital and computational studies are also opening some fascinating perspectives, as suggested by Procter or others, or social simulations scientists. However, these studies are not based on historical and empirical, ethnographic data.


With this project we want to analyze the effects of digital technologies on the existing conflicting and violent dynamic between police forces and the youth street mobilizations. We want to go further that the current state of the art and understand how the distance digital exchanges and the circulating information are able to engage individual and groups towards either pacification of violence. To do so, we will follow a new central hypothesis (Collins & Ferret, upcoming publication): the role of digital media plays an essential role in the birth of such street gatherings, but physical and real interactions do still remain of the highest important. We therefore aim at studying the role of digital media during a mobilization, and especially during confrontational conflict phases. Our analysis will comprise three complementary levels:

1) Situation intelligence from the police forces viewpoint: does digital communication allows better police forces intelligence? Is there a better communication among police forces members with the use of digital communication means? Is there a better understanding of the social mobilizations? Which type of exploitable knowledge is produced and how does it circulate through hierarchies and in organizations?

2) Between police forces and activists: does the information exchange through digital media help to clear up any misunderstandings, to install a negotiation climate? Does it allow an identification of the mobilizations leaders, especially the “unusual suspects”, and the development of a communication with them?

3) Among activists groups themselves: does the dialogue through digital media between the protesters lead to some kind of collective self-discipline through the message? Some sort of auto-pacification, an emotional and non-violent solidarity? Towards the public opinion? To give a more favorable image to the social movement?

Written by  Jérôme FERRET, sociologue chez Université Toulouse 1 Capitole and CREC contributor.

Présentation du GT 45 Sociologie des conflits et appel à communication pour le 6ème Congrès de l’Association Française de Sociologie

GT 45 Sociologie des conflits

Ce groupe se propose comme lieu d’échanges et de recherches sur les conflits et leurs régulations. Le reflux des affrontements majeurs entre blocs, classes, nations, n’a pas mis fin aux conflits individuels et collectifs. Ceux-ci ont plutôt tendance à se fragmenter, se diversifier, se disséminer. Des domaines longtemps perçus comme stables, par exemple la santé, la mort, l’appartenance ethnique, l’environnement, la prison, le travail et l’organisation, sont devenus aujourd’hui autant d’enjeux agonistiques. Le groupe s’intéresse particulièrement aux formes nouvelles de conflictualités, à leurs dynamiques et leurs effets. Dans une perspective positive et dynamique, le conflit permet de préciser une position, voire une identité ; en intensifiant les relations entre les hommes, il présente un effet socialisateur. Il développe des compétences stratégiques, tactiques, organisationnelles ; en bousculant les équilibres, il dégage des solutions nouvelles, suscite ruse et inventivité et donne lieu à des créations institutionnelles. Autrement dit, le conflit est envisagé comme un analyseur et un catalyseur social mettant en évidence ce qui passe pour aller de soi, précipitant des évolutions en cours.


À travers les situations étudiées, le groupe s’attache à identifier les logiques à l’œuvre dans les conflictualités contemporaines. Il met l’accent sur deux aspects : une dimension comparative afin de saisir les différences et les points communs entre des conflits de nature, d’échelle, et d’intensité diverses ; une dimension dynamique, afin de saisir les effets des conflits : tensions, expressions, négociations, médiations, créations, déplacements, traces.

Responsables: Nicolas Amadio (Université de Strasbourg), Jérôme Ferret (Université de Toulouse 1 Capitole), Dietmar Loch (Université de Lille 1)

Membres du bureau: Myriam Klinger (Université de Strasbourg) et Sébastien Schehr (Université de Savoie), Christophe Baticle (Université de Picardie Jules Verne d’Amiens), Jean-Vincent Holeindre (Université Paris 2), Catherine Lutard (Université de Strasbourg).

Le bureau élargi comprend également des (post)doctorants qui s’investissent dans les activités du GT45 : Camille Adamiec ( Docteur), Régis Lanno (Docteur en sociologie), Flavien Le Bouter, Louis Mathiot (Docteur en sociologie).

Appel à communication pour le 6ème Congrès de l’AFS

Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines

29 juin-2 juillet 2015

Les propositions de communication (3000 signes maximum, espaces compris) présenteront l’objet de la recherche, le questionnement et la problématique, le terrain, les catégories et la méthodologie utilisée pour le recueil des données (ou à défaut, les corpus systématiques de sources si ce travail n’est pas lié à un terrain).

Les propositions comprendront les éléments suivants dans l’ordre d’apparition :

• Nom, prénom du/des auteur-e-s

• Fonction et institution de rattachement

• Adresse mail

• Titre de la communication

• 5 mots clés

• Proposition de communication (3000 signes maximum espaces compris)

• Titre et résumé de la proposition (1500 signes espaces compris)

Les propositions doivent être adressées sous fichier word et rtf à: avant le 15 janvier 2015

Les réponses aux propositions reçues seront envoyées courant février 2015.

Les résumés (1500 signes) des propositions acceptées figureront dans le volume édité pour le congrès. C’est au moment de vous inscrire au congrès sur le site de l’AFS que vous devrez y déposer votre résumé afin qu’il figure dans le volume édité pour le congrès, cette responsabilité incombant donc aux auteurs.

Nous vous remercions de bien vouloir :

1- indiquer en objet de votre message : AFS-GT 45 proposition congrès 2015

2- nommer votre fichier de la façon suivante : nom-congrès AFS 2015.doc

Pour plus d’informations:

Human Rights Violations, a new ebook from the CREC and the Campus for peace


Violacions dels drets humansv4Campus for Peace, Centre for Research and Studies in Conflict Resolution (CREC) and EdiUOC have published the ebook:

Violacions dels drets humans
(Editorial UOC, ISBN 978-84-9064-494-2)

This book results from the collaborative work of several authors, all of them specialists in different areas of human rights. Our authors have presented and denounced present violations of human rights, and described their causes and consequences. Among the subjects addressed in the book: gender-based violence, violation of human rights in Catalonia related to racism, the vulnerability of children and teenage victims of sexual violence, the fight against forced disappearances, the international situation of modern slavery, and the violation of the rights to health and education throughout the world.

The act of presentation of this book will be held next 15 December at 19:00, at Palau Macaya, Passeig de Sant Joan, 108, Barcelona.

The speakers will be Eduard Vinyamata, Head of the Conflict Resolution Programmes at the UOC Law and Political Science Studies; Siscu Baiges, journalist; Blanca Camps-Febrer, expert in forced disappearances; Andrea Compagno and Debora D’Alleva, lawyers specialised in children’s rights; and Ramon Tena, mediator, trainer in conflict management and educator in human right sand researcher CREC

Looking forward to meeting you!

“Conflicte públic” guanya el Premi de Civisme

Portada Conflicte PublicEn les primeres ratlles del llibre “Conflicte Públic.30 articles breus sobre la Resolució de Conflictes a Catalunya” dic que: “Analitzo el problema i me n’adono que hi ha una oportunitat a la premsa per a explicar de forma atractiva i pedagògica els conflictes públics que es generen en les nostres societats, i, a la vegada, comentar i aplicar formules provades per a la seva gestió i resolució positiva i amb èxit”.

Per mitjà d’aquest forma de presentar i treballar els conflictes a la premsa mostrant els principis i processos bàsics de la gestió i la resolució de conflictes, aplicant-los en problemes quotidians i tractant de fer-ne pedagogia entre els lectors, hem estat premiats per la Generalitat de Catalunya, en concret amb el Premi Civisme en la modalitat d’assaig, 32 edició Serra i Moret.

Aquests premis, convocats per la Direcció General d’Acció Cívica i Comunitària del Departament de Benestar Social i Família, estimulen i premien accions i treballs, fets des d’àmbits professionals i franges d‘edat ben diferents, que tractin els valors cívics o que en proposin reflexions i actuacions.

El material de “Conflicte Públic” conjuga, d’una banda, una tipologia de textos, ja que com articles destinats a la premsa han tingut la possibilitat, d’entre d’altres, de donar a conèixer l’existència de conflictes, analitzar-los i facilitar la reflexió al voltant de la millor manera de gestionar-los i de les claus bàsiques per assolir solucions positives i satisfactòries; i de l’altra, mostrar com el conflicte ha esdevingut un signe de la nostra civilització i una coordenada bàsica i estable per entendre el funcionament de la nostra societat.

Però aporta un element més, i és que durant molt de temps el conflicte s’ha percebut només com quelcom negatiu, que calia eliminar i evitar. Però el conflicte també aporta oportunitats per avançar. I és que el conflicte no és negatiu ni positiu, és o serà d’una o altra manera en funció de la gestió que se’n faci, que en fem. I aquest llibre ajudar a treballar en aquesta darrera direcció.

Després 10 anys de treball en la Resolució de Conflictes, investigant, formant i intervenint en diferents projectes científics i professionals, el 15 de març de 2010 vaig elaborar el primer article sobre aquesta matèria per a la premsa. Després han vingut uns quants més amb la col·laboració de l’Eduard Carrera.

Els trenta articles que teniu en aquest llibre tracten conflictes públics, des de la seva triple vessant: 1) problemes que impliquen o afecten a les persones com a ciutadans; 2) situacions i fets que reclamen una resposta des dels governs i les administracions públiques, com a garants i responsables de la seguretat i l’estabilitat socials; i 3) esdeveniments i declaracions d’assumptes conflictius que s’informen en els mitjans de comunicació, que esdevenen i es fan públics.

Perquè què tenen en comú, entre d’altres, un jugador i un entrenador de futbol, els membres d’un govern municipal i una veïna i la portera d’una escala?

Written by Xavier Pastor, coordinator of the UOC master programme on Conflictology, researcher at CREC, and winner of one of the Public Spirit Awards 2014 (Serra i Moret Award) with his book Conflicte Públic. 30 articles breus sobre Resolució de Conflictes (Public Conflict. 30 short articles on Conflict Resolution).

Sovereignty Conflicts, a new ebook from the CREC and the Campus for peace

Campus for Peace, Centre for Research and Studies in Conflict Resolution (CREC) and EdiUOC have published the ebook Conflictes de soberania (Sovereignty Conflicts), where several experts analyse the right of peoples to decide by themselves on issues like food, security, culture, communications, energy or the economy.

This collection of nine articles goes into the analysis of sovereignty conflicts, especially, into the Catalan case.

Sovereignty conflicts are at the heart of conflicts of all kinds, not of only political conflicts but also of conflicts among persons.

The complexity of sovereignty conflicts and of general conflicts demands monographs like this, and requires the integration of experts from different areas, who are requested to participate in the goal of Conflictology: make peace where there is war.

The concept of sovereignty is not limited to the sovereignty of independent states, but it has also much to do with the grabbing of natural resources, and with the respect to cultural, social and sexual identities of persons. Sovereignty means respect for persons individually, and for the communities they shape, with their social, cultural or historical traits, or for the communities claiming their capacity for self-government.

From now on, this book will be a part of our Conflict Resolution Studies, and serve to guide action on conflict resolution for professionals in this field, for those with a background in conflict resolution and for those actually working in the fields of political science and social sciences.

The fact is that this book, along with the other books of this collection promoted by Campus for Peace and CREC at the UOC, shapes a set of innovative, updated books on Conflict Resolution. This collection combines diverse approaches providing a transversal and cross-disciplinary value, much in tune with current trends combining specialisation and a holistic vision, this being essential to understanding the phenomena affecting us in life, like conflicts.

Sovereignty conflicts are present in the current political affairs. One needs only to be informed. Unfortunately, the solutions are not part of the news, and conflicts increase, multiply and worsen, making it more important than ever to understand conflicts of this nature and have different tools and a superior efficacy to intervene and restore peace. Some may think that this is inherent to humanity and that we cannot do anything but piling weapons and patience to deal with these challenges. I think, in the same way that people cannot fly by ourselves and, despite this limitation, and using wit, we have got to do it, so in the field of war and peace we can get positive results if we devote energy to understanding violence and conflict, which is the only way to find solutions and enjoy peace.

Building Peace through Human Rights Education (HRE)

Cooperacix_mansWhen talking about Human Rights, one of the reactions I’ve experienced is that many people consider them as a too distant concept, usually restricted to international organizations. I’ve also seen that people refers to them in a very passive way: a series of rights that States and public administrations have to respect and promote, but too often they forget that Human Rights start by oneself: as citizens, we are the main responsible to respect and to promote them.

That’s one of the aims of Human Rights Education (HRE). HRE are all activities (trainings, workshops, personal experiences, lectures…) whose objective is to develop competences to understand Human Rights and create societies that respect and foster Human Rights.

One of the areas where HRE develops its full potential is in the field of peace culture. Our societies enjoy and ever-increasing diversity. This is a great advantage and a constant source of learning; but at the same time, it can create conflict and misunderstandings. HRE contributes with tools that help citizens to better understand diversity and reinforce mutual learning and coexistence between cultures, religions or ethnic groups.

Youth Peace Ambassadors

One way to understand the work of HRE in favor of peace-building is through some initiatives of the Council of Europe, one of the most active institutions in promoting HRE.  Youth Peace Ambassdors (YPA) is a program led by the Youth Department and where AHEAD had the pleasure to participate.

This program encourages the role of youth in peace-building activities. The project consisted in several workshops for youth active in the field of Human Rights and who would later be able to translate the competences developed in communities affected by conflicts. The residential workshops included issues like defending and promoting Human Rights in conflict zones, peace-building and conflict transformation activities, and developing tools to design actions to ensure social cohesion and manage conflicts in areas with high immigrant population.

NHS logoThe main result of the program was the creation of a European network of youth peace ambassadors that have coordinated actions to promote and defend Human Rights. They have also developed their own tools and campaigns to foster peace-building. YPA’s, for instance, have been very active in the No Hate Speech Campaign, a campaign to combat hate speech in the internet. Furthermore, YPA’s are developing the projects that they planned during the residential seminars. For instance, they are implementing educational activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, peace camps in Kosovo or activities to promote peace-culture through social networks.

The program ended last year, but the Council of Europe is working in many other projects to build peace through HRE, like Youth Peace Camps or a European network of Roma mediators.

Be light-hearted and live better to improve your job performance

Many research studies show how work atmosphere influences on job performance. So, we obtain better work results if we are happy and fulfilled in our workplace.

But, what’s work atmosphere? And how organization managers can influence on it?

We can define it as a location where a task is completed. When pertaining to a place employment, the work ambience involves the physical geographical location as well as the immediate workplace surroundings, such as the construction site or the office building. Typically it involves other factors relating to the quality of the air, the noise level, additional perks and employment benefits like free child care or private health insurance. As well as reconciling work and family life facilities, tasks definition, communication channels, content control and working conditions, psychological demands, social support (from colleagues and superiors) in work performance, appropriate remuneration according to effort made, etc.

All this factors are important to improve the employee’s work performance and not to develop negative, the leaders involvement is required. Taking in account that they are responsible of ensuring workers welfare, and they have to provide suitable communication mechanisms to voice the employees concerns and worries.

Contrary to what we might think, this kind of information is very powerful and difficult to get. So, how can we do it? What kinds of mechanisms are available?

In Spain the law 31/1995, de 8 de noviembre, de prevención de Riesgos Laborales, and later 54/2003, de 12 de diciembre, de reforma del marco normativo de la prevención de Riesgos Laborales, ensures the fulfilment of the valid legislation in issues of Labour Risk Prevention, including the psychosocial risk assessment.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health of Denmark, developed the method COPSOQ, known as ISTAS21 in Spain and as PSQCAT21 in Catalonia. This can be applied to any type of company and job and through questionnaires it identifies the psychosocial risks in companies and areas where work organization can be improved.

Assessments are carried out by working groups, composed by safety representatives, managers and advised by safety experts. Depending on the company size, safety experts will be from the own company or from private risk prevention services.

These working groups are responsible for the entire process but the only ones responsible for implementing corrective measures are the company managers.

Even having a law that says that Spanish companies require psychosocial risk assessment, according to a 2008 study, of a total of 92.477 companies only 4% of these performed the assessment (see the PSQCAT21 method for more information).

Considering that increasing employee satisfaction reduces the organization costs and considering the tools offered by the public administration, why are only a few companies doing the study? This makes me think of:

Do the companies really know the benefits of a supportive work atmosphere?

Do the managers know how to manage the obtained information in a proper way? Specially if they anticipate some negative results to the survey, often they prefer not to ask because they know beforehand that the results can uncover a latent conflict that would be difficult to handle.

Why small enterprises do not carry out assessments? According to the same 2008 study, mentioned above, only a 3% of small enterprises, between 20 to 49 workers, performed the psychosocial risk assessment.

In order to answer these questions conflictologists only have one possible way, listen to managers and then using the tools of alternative dispute resolution try to help them finding their own solutions.

Conciliation Resources

Conciliation Resources has launched a new video in time for UN Peace Day.

Sport as an effective tool for conflict resolution

In the 9th Century BC the Olympic Truce or ‘Eikencheiria’ (meaning laying down of arms) ensured that before and during the Olympic Games, athletes and spectators could travel safely to the host city state and return afterwards to their countries. Conflicts and wars were ceased and death penalties were forbidden.

Olympism and Olympic Movement revived in 1896, aiming to a peaceful future for mankind through the educational value of sport, promoting peace, friendship, solidarity and fair play.

In 1990 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reinstated the ideal of the Olympic Truce, which a couple of years later received the support from the UN General Assembly with the resolution 48/10.

In 2011 the 66th session of the General Assembly unanimously supported a resolution on the London Olympics 2012. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon described this moment as “the first time in our history that all 193 UN Member States cosponsored the Olympic Truce resolution”.

Nowadays, more and more national and international development organisations are aware of the power of sport as an efficient tool in their approaches in local, regional and global development and peace promotion programmes. Sport has proven to be a powerful tool for uniting people, crossing boundaries, and developing tolerance, respect and social inclusion.

Despite this recognition, the systematic use of sport and physical education for development and peace is still in its early stages. Not enough research and peer-reviewed literature has been published. Sport programmes in conflict and post-conflict situations should be implemented as part of comprehensive peace-building strategies, it should be part of an approach which includes political, economic and socio-cultural context.

Sport has the benefit of being a universal language, understood almost by all humans. Sport brings people together no matter their origin, background, religious beliefs or economic status. Sport empowers people through very basic values such as equality, respect and fair play, among others.

The Open University of Catalonia UOC is offering since Autumn 2012 a MA program in Sport for Social Coexistence and Conflict Resolution, with the objective to raise awareness of the potential of sport as a tool for educational intervention in the context of low social cohesion and high socio-political conflict.

Among our academic staff we count with the collaboration of experts and professionals from different areas of knowledge and implementation. Thanks to our professors, students and collaborators we learn about the critical situation in places like Pakistan, Ecuador, Brazil or Syria, among others. They are testimonies and fighters; they have big hopes for a greater future in their societies. And they meet at the UOC to exchange experiences and learn about opportunities.

We need to bring better educational chances to children and young people, empower women in different cultures, integrate disabled people in society, offer peaceful solutions in conflict situations, strengthen the global consciousness about environment and health issues.

This is the goal of our research initiative, to join forces and improve the efficiency of sport as a tool for development and peace (SDP).

With the support of the CREC at the UOC University, the research group in SDP will analyse, advance and disseminate evidence, best practices and lessons learned with the collaboration of other organisations, institutions and organisms at an international level.

We look forward to meeting our goals with you!

What about the cost of conflicts?

How we can detect the cost of a conflict? That’s a clear and simple but complex question. Usually in Catalonia and in Spain is not habitual to take it into account but it’s so important to quantify economic and emotional damages that generate disputes or confrontations in which we face every day. It’s so important for companies but also for public institutions, organizations, citizens, etc… Just a few years ago we considered this question, but this time with an important difference. This time we wanted to answer the question, and try to quantify the cost that generate confrontations or disputes. So we created from the graduate public conflict resolution and mediation community of Girona, in Catalonia, the first study that attempted to quantify the cost that generated to “administradors de finques” in the province of Girona in fact manage conflicts. In this case, the sum amounts to about € 74,000 per year administrator. A significant amount.

So last year, with the support of the Campus for Peace of the UOC University we decided to constitute the research group “the cost of conflict”. Precisely ahead and make a plan of work which consists in the way of conflict resolution – the science that studies conflicts- and serve to promote a research field that asks what happens within organizations when there are conflicts in quantify their impact.

What are the objectives of this research group? In this regard, note three main objectives: 1) Develop research and analyze the cost generated by the confrontations or disputes in organizations – businesses, public administration agencies, organizations, etc. -. For this reason, the group promoted singles and case studies in order to become the maximum possible useful. 2) Advise and design a method of working that enable companies to detect conflicts and manage them in a practical and effective. In this case, noted that U.S. companies have trouble hiring professional services that allow them to redirect specific situation and quantify the processes followed. 3) Investing in new technologies in order to develop tools and instruments to detect conflicts and develop economic processes to manage them. 4) Visualize the research group nationally and internationally and become leaders in the study of the cost of conflict. In this case, it aims to invest in training and events designed to bring the group.

At this time, this research group belonging to different professionals, experts in conflict management and interested interested in analyzing the confrontations or dispute impact order to build customized solutions, effective and optimal. Therefore, we focus our area of interest on the cost because we believe that to see the opportunities that present conflicts, at first it is necessary to visualize what cost generates confrontation.

Finally, note that to start our work plan is based on research applications to realize two companies and “administradors de finques”. Specifically, initially intends to expand the research cost of conflict at the state level, and in a second step aims to make a comparative study in a company in order to determine the impact of establishing management mechanisms alternative dispute. From here sets out actions that will be focused on consulting, training and group view.