Areas of expertise: Social movements, political deliberation and democratic politics in the Global South; Brazil
Ann Mische’s research focuses on communication, deliberation and leadership in social movements and democratic politics. She has examined these processes in her study of Brazilian youth politics during re-democratization as well as in her more recent work on the anti-partisanship in the global protest wave.
Currently, she is working on a book on the role of future-oriented deliberations in social and political change efforts across global networks focused on development, peacebuilding and environmental sustainability.
Mische’s first book, Partisan Publics: Communication and Contention Across Brazilian Youth Activist Networks (Princeton University Press, 2008) was awarded an honorable mention for the 2009 Best Book Award of the American Sociological Association’s Political Sociology section. This book examines the relationship between partisanship and civic association in Brazilian youth politics during 20 years of democratic restructuring.
Using a combination of interpretive and network-analytic approaches, Mische tracks the trajectories of five “micro-cohorts” of activists through overlapping institutional sectors, including partisan, civic, religious, corporate, labor and social movement networks and their associated “publics” for intervention and debate. She examines the distinct styles of political communication and leadership that developed in different regions of the field. She also considers the implications of these styles—and the forms of political mediation and leadership they give rise to—for democratic politics in Brazil and elsewhere.
Mische is currently conducting research for a second book, tentatively titled Futures in Contention: Projective Deliberation and Transformative Politics in the Global Arena. The book examines how techniques for imagining possible futures–such as strategic forecasting, participatory scenario planning and alternative futures visioning–have traveled across social sectors, appearing in corporate and military venues, inter-governmental agencies, transnational advocacy forums, grass roots community workshops and the global justice movement.
Yet despite this widespread enthusiasm for the role of future scenario-building in social change efforts, these practices have received little critical scholarly attention. The book examines the transnational networks and deliberative practices that are shaping these new forms of future thinking, while looking critically at the ways in which they are (or are not) influencing political decision-making and social interventions aimed at addressing poverty, violence, and environmental degradation.
This book builds on Mische’s previous theoretical work on how cultural construction of the future influences actions, relations and political process (American Journal of Sociology, 1998; Sociological Forum, 2009). It also builds on a pilot study that Mische is conducting with a team of Notre Dame graduate students, examining future-oriented discourse in the (often fierce) debates over proposals for a “green economy” at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the accompanying “People’s Summit” of social movement and civil society actors. Using automated textual analysis and relational mapping techniques, this work examine how patterns of topical engagement (semantics) and future-oriented verb usage (syntax) contribute to the constitution of a discursive field, composed of mutually oriented, often contentious communities of practice. Preliminary findings from this study appeared in a recent article in Theory and Society (2014).
Mische’s articles on the Brazilian case have appeared in Poetics, the International Review of Social History, and several edited volumes, including Social Movements and Networks: Relational Approaches to Collective Action (Oxford, 2003). She has also written broader theoretical articles on agency, culture, temporality, and social interaction, appearing in the American Journal of Sociology, the Annual Review of Sociology, Sociological Forum, Social Research, Theory and Society and the Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis (2011).
Mische has served as chair of two sections of the American Sociological Association: Political Sociology (2013-14) and Theory (2007-08). She has also served as an elected officer in the sections on Sociology of Culture and Collective Behavior and Social Movements. She served as co-editor of Social Movement Studies: A Journal of Social, Cultural, and Political Protest (2001-2008) and on the Selection Committee for the SSRC’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2007-09).