From ‘Seeing’ to ‘Seizing’ Opportunity: Critical Events, Turning Points and Ethnolinguistic Mobilization in the Basque Country

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This article examines how social movement actors carry out the transition
from ‘seeing’ to ‘seizing’ critical events as empowering structures of
political opportunity. Drawing on qualitative data, the discussion looks at
how Basque language activists affiliated with the ikastola schooling
movement in France engaged with a chain of events linked to the rise of
democracy and autonomy in the Spanish Basque Country from 1975 to
1987. The analysis shows how intersubjective perceptions of ‘opportunity’
inspired French Basque activists to orchestrate a strategic turning point
through the formation of cross-border ties with parallel actors in Spain.
Subsequently, consideration is given to some of the outcomes generated by
the formation of these ties for activists in France. In addition to shedding
empirical light on the Basque case, the article contributes to micro-cultural
studies of macro-political processes in social movement studies by
illuminating the discursive and organizational practices through which
grassroots actors transform opportune situations into empowering outcomes
during times of large-scale societal crisis and transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-374
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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