PDW 03: Social Movements in Transformations towards Sustainability, Democracy and Equality

Simone Schiller-Merkens
Witten/Herdecke University, Germany
Daniel Waeger
Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
Klaus Weber
Northwestern University, USA

Call for Applications


Philip Balsiger, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Donatella della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy
Mario Diani, University of Trento, Italy
Francesca Forno, University of Trento, Italy
Brayden King, Northwestern University, USA
Ignasi Martí, ESADE Business School, Spain
Michael Lounsbury, University of Alberta, Canada
Tal Simons, Rotterdam School of Management, Netherlands


The purpose of this PDW, hosted by the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 04 “Social Movements and Organizations”, is to connect organizational and social movement scholars who study central transformation projects in contemporary societies. In particular, the workshop will provide a forum to develop research on how social movements interact with other actors in transformations towards sustainability, democracy and equality. Such transformations have attracted increased interest from organizational scholars, for example in the context of research on “grand challenges”. We conceive of social movements broadly, as collective projects that pursue transformation projects not only in the domain of formal politics and through traditional repertoires of contention, such as protests and political campaigns, but that also entail cultural, social and economic forms of action, ranging from prefigurative novel forms of organization to entrepreneurial and consumer action. The workshop invites explorations of the sources of transformation projects in social realities and imaginaries, alternative forms of organizing, and the challenges, failures and successes of movements in comprehensive transformation projects.
The starting point of the PDW is the observation that contemporary societies are far from perfect and face common “grand challenges” that put central needs and ideals at risk; and that some are attempting transformation projects to address the deficiencies and imperfections embodied in grand challenges, such as through sustainability transitions, democratization projects, and transformations towards social justice and greater equality. Contemporary social movements play a prominent role in animating and organizing sustained political, cultural and economic action for such transformation projects (see, e.g., youth environmental movements, Black Lives Matter or global indigenous rights movements). Movements sustain political campaigns but also promote new forms of democratic voice and participation and prepare the ground for alternative forms of organizing production, exchange and consumption (see, e.g., the emergence of moral markets for renewable energy, sustainable food, responsible investing or ethical fashion.)
We also witness an expansion of types of activism that diverge from institutionalized repertoires, such as street protest, boycotts and targeting campaigns, into ephemeral online campaigns but also long-term forms that involve the creation of alternative organizations, collaboration networks and communities. Examples include the creation and enabling of cooperatives and private regulatory standards, degrowth and post-growth organizations, common good organizations, social enterprises, permaculture, transition towns or eco-villages. As such, movements are actively involved in what has been called prefiguration – the attempt at constructing participatory, inclusive, democratic, egalitarian and environmentally sustainable forms of organizing and thereby anticipate and enact moral values of alternative economies and societies that are not yet realized at a broader scale. Collectively, this research points to the potential of social movements to envision alternative institutions and support more fundamental transformations, not only through activism directed at state institutions but though a broad range of pathways.
We call for submissions of working papers and research proposals on any topic related to the workshop topic. With a focus on understanding important dynamics of contemporary societies, we are agnostic to particular theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. Instead, the workshop explores a plurality of approaches that examine social movements involved in transformation projects towards sustainability, democracy and equality. We also seek to facilitate conversations between more experienced scholars, early career scholars and PhD candidates.


The PDW’s central element is developmental feedback on the submitted research in roundtables facilitated by experienced scholars. Each submission will receive two rounds of feedback with different participants (2 x 60 mins.).
In addition, there will be one interactive panel discussion on social movements and societal transformations (45 mins.), as well as a facilitated closing plenary on research directions and future convenings (45 mins.).


Please submit – via the EGOS website – by April 30, 2022 a single document of application (.docx or .pdf file) that includes the following information:

  • Full contact information of all authors;

  • A 1-page single spaced summary of a proposed or current research project, (a) explaining the project, (b) its relation to the PDW theme, and (c) the type of developmental help most valuable to the author(s).


Simone Schiller-Merkens is Senior Researcher at the Reinhard Mohn Institute of Management at Witten/Herdecke University, Germany. In her research, she is generally interested in moral issues in and around organizing and in organizing for social transformation. Simone studies social movements and the formation of moral market fields and categories, imaginaries of the future of moral market actors, as well as prefiguration and alternative organizing.
Daniel Waeger is an Associate Professor at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. His main research interests include corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. Daniel’s current research projects focus on framing contests and impression management strategies that shareholder activists and boards of directors employ in their contentious interactions.
Klaus Weber is a Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, and Deputy Director of Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University, USA. His research uses cultural and institutional analysis to understand the intersection between social movements and the economy, the political economy of globalization and development, and environmental sustainability. His research has been published widely in management and sociology journals.