HORIZON EUROPE┋Protest politics and cultures of opposition in democracy



Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Practical understanding of the role and evolution of all forms of opposition (protest, cultural opposition, non-compliance, subversion, activism), their different platforms (physical and online), and their impact on democracy, including in resisting the rise of authoritarian tendencies and in taking down authoritarian regimes.
  • Policy recommendations based on a deep analysis of the potential shift from traditional party structures to social mobilisation and activism as means for democratic participation, including drivers and factors that might play a role in fostering such forms of politics.
  • Innovative forms of non-conflictual constructive engagement, which can channel social and community mobilisation and protest resulting from lack of/limited channels for democratic civic engagement and collective political action.
  • Rebuilding citizens’ trust in the impact and validity of electoral processes at various levels.


Citizens increasingly disengage from traditional party politics and voting as a way to express political views, values and beliefs. On the other hand, recent years have seen diverse forms of political protest, social and artistic movements and activism, flourish both offline and online. In fact, the Eurobarometer Youth Survey 2021 showed that a majority of young people in Ireland, Spain and Belgium, amongst others, consider participating in forms of street politics equal to, or more effective, than voting.

Research proposals under this topic should analyse further the shift towards politics of collective action, and their impact on European democracies, including their role in resisting the rise of authoritarian tendencies and in taking down authoritarian regimes. This could refer to both online and offline forms of collective political action, including artistic forms of protest (audiovisual art, literature, music, etc.). Proposals should consider drivers and factors that play a role in fostering such forms of politics (emotional, gender, socioeconomic, cultural, historical, generational, geopolitical, geographical etc.), including the role of social media platforms. This should be contextualised in a historical study of the role of protest movements and their impact on democracy. Proposals may analyse local, regional, national as well as transnational movements, mobilisation, and democracy within the European Union.

Proposals should consider the relationship between (i) collective action as a way to channel democratic grievances and (ii) limited channels for citizen participation, thus analysing the implications of further citizen support for democracy combined with the dissatisfaction with the current democratic channels (with a special focus on accessibility and inclusiveness of democratic channels such as voting for vulnerable people, mobile citizens, migrants, etc.). This could also mean exploring self-organised alternative forms of citizen participation (such as assemblies) and other innovative forms of non-conflictual constructive engagement.

The growing defiance towards the ‘usefulness’ of voting and electoral processes should also be addressed. Voting abstention as a mean to protest against a perceived lack of options, and how to remediate disengagement with electoral processes, can be a particular focus. Proposals should propose concrete paths to rebuild citizens’ trust in the impact and validity of electoral processes at various level, from local to European.

Special attention could be put on younger generations, who have vastly participated in shaping the public sphere with their activism in movements such as Pride, Fridays for Future and feminist mobilisations. A focus could also be on violence and extremist movements’ influence, for instance on protests against COVID-19 public health measures. How social networks act as a factor to increase societal resilience and as a way to pressure political change could also be investigated. Finally, how formal education contexts are integrating these new manifestations into citizenship education could also be explored. As new forms of political participation are still very much urban-based, proposals should include a specific focus on how to constructively channel rural youth’s discontent.

Proposals are encouraged to make use of participative methodologies and to draw on a combination of methods and literature.

In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged in particular with countries from the MENA region.

Clustering and cooperation with other selected projects under this topic and other relevant projects are strongly encouraged.

Proposals are encouraged to collaborate with the JRC Competence Centre on Participatory and Deliberative Democracy,[1] particularly in respect to innovative forms of non-conflictual constructive engagement and its potential to transform democracies and democratic systems.


Date de candidature
Humanités : Anthropologie & Ethnologie, Art et histoire de l'art, Philosophie, théologie et religion
Sciences sociales : Géographie, Psychologie et sciences cognitives, Relations internationales, Science politique, Sciences de l'information et de la communication, Sociologie