Overcoming Uncertainty: Agency, Stance and the Rise of Collective Action in Times of Crisis

Kai Heidemann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


How do people exert their agency in the face of large-scale societal crises? Merging strands of sociolinguistic scholarship with social movement theory, this article offers a way of looking at how grassroots actors work to overcome dramatic episodes of macro-structural instability and uncertainty through participation in collective action. Particular attention is given to a heuristic development of the concepts of ‘stance’ and ‘stance-taking’. Stance is defined as the strategic and solidaristic position taken up by a group of actors toward a critical event, such as an economic meltdown or collapsing political regime. Stance-taking is defined as the ensemble of discursive, organizational and dramaturgical practices through which group-based stances are developed and deployed. Ultimately, the social construction of stance is theorized as integral to the emergence of collective action and the broader expansion of social movement activities in times of crisis. By way of illustration attention is given to the stance-taking practices that fueled the rise of mass protests and mobilization in Argentina during a period of severe crisis in 2001-02.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-96
JournalSociological Focus
Issue number2
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Crisis, Collective Action, Stance, Social Movements, Argentina

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