Marc Konstanzer, M.A.

PhD project

Between Activism and Distancing: The Genesis of Social Science New Social Movement Research in the 1970s and 1980s

The project deals with the history of social science research on "New Social Movements (NSM)". The term emerged in the late 1960s in connection with the studies of the activist and sociologist Alain Touraine and the discussions about a post-industrial knowledge society. In the course of the 1970s and 1980s, the research concept became established with the studies of Alberto Melucci and Claus Offe, among others, but also with empirical work by Karl-Werner Brand, Dieter Rucht or Joachim Raschke, for example.

The starting point of the project is the observation that in NSB research "predominantly young, little-established academics" took up research projects based on "their own experiences in social movements" and even organised themselves informally in networks of people "similar to the movements themselves". Publication forums emerged that were "explicitly intended to promote communication between movement researchers and movement activists". In this context, it will be explored whether "movement intellectuals" reshaped participatory knowledge into building blocks of the theoretical edifice of social science NSB research and to what extent their premises and perspectives were shaped activistically. The question is thus about the interrelationship between activism and social science research.

The early politicisation of movement research in the 1970s and 1980s and the practical integration of its actors into the alternative left milieu did not mean from the outset, as Michael Th. Greven polemicised in 1988, that movement research had "atrophied" into "a mere affirmative research of accompaniment and acceptance". The quite complex (inter)relationship between incidental and informal knowledge on the one hand and theoretical insights on the other, between practically acquired movement and application knowledge and the formulation and production of theoretical knowledge has not yet been systematically researched. For the first time, therefore, the overarching schemata of thinking, perception and judgement of European and US-American pioneers of social science NSB research in the 1970s and 1980s will be examined.

By comparing the activist parts of social science with the more distanced movement researchers, the impact and consequences of the epistemological and moral consequences that might result from researchers and researched entering into close (and sometimes normatively charged) collaborations with each other will be explored. Due to the temporal distance, this project promises a sober analysis of formerly polemically conducted controversies.

About me

10.2014 - 09.2018 BA studies (major: modern and contemporary history, minor: political science) at the University of Konstanz and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
10.2018 - 05.2022 MA studies (history) at the University of Konstanz

Central Student Advisory Service University of Konstanz
D.I.E. Firmenhistoriker GmbH, Aalen

Research Interests

History of social movements
History of Knowledge
History of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1945


08.2022 – 12.2022 Position as a research associate financed by the Centre for Cultural Inquiry