In Search for New Emotional Movements
An international and comparative research on a potentially new type of social movements
In the autumn of 1996, 300,000 Belgians took to the streets in a protest rally called the 'White March' (de Witte Mars), thus generating the largest mobilization in Belgian history. The immediate cause for this protest was given by a series of horrifying kidnappings, sexual abuses and murders of several little and adolescent girls by one man, Marc Dutroux, and also by the seemingly incompetence of, and even sabotage within the judiciary system and the police in the handling of these shocking events. The White March and the alongside developed White Movement were in many ways different from, and even contrary to what would be expected from mainstream social movement literature. In earlier publications, Walgrave and others have always drawn the attention to several distinguishing characteristics: the importance of victimhood and emotions as triggers for mobilization; the lack of clear-cut demands; the lack of organizational resources and organized networks; the alliance with the national mass media; the heterogeneity of the support; and the indiscriminate elite support. Within this project, we will try to find out, in an explorative (but in a way also in a testing) manner, if the interplay between this characteristics makes that the White March & Movements can indeed be ruled out as protest and social movement anomalies or idiosyncrasies, or if they are, on the contrary, to be considered a prototype of a new kind of mobilizations and social movements, that surface all over the (Western) world. Comparative cases are: The U.S. Million Mom March; The U.K. Snowdrop Campaign; The Movement against Meaningless Violence / Beweging tegen Zinloos Geweld in the Netherlands.