Carlo Ruzza

Visiting Professor of Political Sociology

University of Trento, School of International Studies and Department of Sociology

Carlo Ruzza (MA SUNY, PhD Harvard) is Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Trento where he teaches courses on European Studies and Political Sociology. He has previously taught at the University of Leicester where he was Professor of Political Sociology until 2012, at the University of Essex and at the University of Surrey, and was a Jean Monnet fellow at the European Institute in Florence. He has written broadly on social movements, civil society organizations, human rights, populism and right wing parties. He is especially interested in processes of institutionalisation of social movements at EU level and has studied peace movements, the environmental movements, ethno-nationalist movements, and EU-level public-interest associations.

Research interests

Carlo Ruzza's main interest is in advocacy processes at European level and at international level. These processes include a focus on the efforts of civil society groups to affect policy-making in areas such as EU anti-discrimination policy and environmental policy.  In this context,he is interested in the relation between European institutions and civil society groups (inclusive of EU-level umbrella groups, think tanks, advocacy coalitions of likeminded groups, and churches).

Carlo Ruzza is also interested in similar issues at Member State level, with particular reference to France, the UK and Italy. Among the grounds of discrimination, he is particularly interested in racial and ethnic discrimination. In this context, he is interested in the work of migrant associations in areas such as health policy. In this area, he focus on issues of promotion of access to facilities, recognition of cultural and religious differences and allocation of resources.

Carlo Ruzza is interested in the multiplicity of roles performed by civil society groups and particularly in their information-providing roles, their monitoring of regulatory compliance, their political protest activities, and their sensitizing functions vis-à-vis the public sphere. In this context, he is interested in their communication activities and particularly their policy framing activities in public discourse. He is not interested in their service-delivery activities as such, but he is interested in the way their role is negotiated with the state under different governing coalitions. 

Visiting projects and objectives

European Union politics, with its wide range of common policies and its extensive triangulations among political actors operating at EU level and in member states has been a major target of populist movements and parties. At the same time, the EU level has reacted but also, arguably, at least in part caused what has come to be known as the populist turn in European politics. Yet, only limited scholarly attention has been paid to reactions to populism at the EU level. This absence of research is surprising considering for instance the crucial role of the Commission in facing what is de facto as a ‘populist challenge’. The power of the Commission in initiating and coordinating responses to populist movements and parties is substantial. It is sufficient to consider for instance its  policy-initiating power, its role in ‘Communicating Europe’ or its chairing role in Comitology committees. If not to the same extent, a relevant role is also played by other smaller institutions such as the European Economic and Social Committee. Also importantly affected by the ‘populist turn’ of European politics is the thick network of public interest groups, many of which rely on EU funding and interact with civil society in Member States at all levels of governance.  The research project to be conducted at SciencesPo aims to address reactions to the emergence of populist forces in three member states – France, Italy and the UK - and at the EU level, which will be conceptualized  and empirically researched as a complex field of interacting institutions, civil society groups and professional bodies.

To know more

Link to Carlo Ruzza's personal page