Charisma and Emergent Social Movements

Ann: a conference in Groningen, 6-7 November

6 - 7 November 2008
Senate Chamber, Academic Building, Groningen


The Institute of Biography of the University of Groningen and the International Institute of Social History are currently organising an international conference about the role of charisma in the rise of the so-called key figures in emergent social movements. What insights do the comparison of social movements and their leaders from the nineteenth century with those of the twentieth century, and those from Europe with those from other continents, have to offer? Why was there a rapid Veralltäglichung (routinisation) with respect to Lech Walesa, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and the Dutch social democratic leader Pieter Jelles Troelstra (1860-1930), while this was apparently not the case or only occurred more slowly as far as Patrice Lumumba, Hugo Chávez, Mao Zedong and Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, the radical patriarch of Dutch socialism, are concerned?

The organisers believe that such a conference will meet a real demand. There has been a consistent lack of historical and trans-cultural theory on charismatic leadership in the discourse that surrounds the development of social movements. While it is true to say that we have Weber’s approach at our disposal, just like those of Robert Michels and later research into social movements, it is dominated by a political scientific and sociological perspective. The conference aims to put Weber’s theory of charisma to the test; historically and trans-culturally.

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