Michael Briguglio's Blog

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Sunday, April 25, 2021

#Ħsibijiet (80) Vaccination and Cross-Party Consensus

I believe that one reason why Malta's Covid-19 vaccination drive is so successful is because there is cross-party consensus on this, putting country before party. Thumbs up to both Chris Fearne and Stephen Spiteri, and to non-parliamentary forces for acting responsibly on this. Some so called 'advanced societies' are miles away from this feat, with anti-vaxx sentiment gaining ground.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

WIPSS Seminar - Protests in the year of Covid - The case of Malta - Michael Briguglio


WIPSS - Convened by Peter Mayo, Michael Briguglio, Francois Zammit

Protests in the year of Covid– The case of Malta

Speaker: Dr Michael Briguglio

Monday 10 May 18:30

Zoom link: https://universityofmalta.zoom.us/j/94384248891

Facebook event page: (10) Protests in the Year of Covid, The Case of Malta | Facebook

This research presents and discusses physical protests that took place in Malta during 2020 – the year of Covid19 - and which gained media coverage in Malta’s main independent newspapers.

The paper will analyse the issues, organisations, coalitions, venues and type of protests in question. This will provide comparative analysis during the year, which in turn can be compared to upcoming research of protests in subsequent years.

The study will look at the groups and organisations that make up the collective actions in question; the events that form the action repertoire; and the ideas that guide the protests.

In turn, the study will look into the networks and the broader context in which movements are protesting, which in this case concerns the specific characteristics of movement and political activism in Malta as a small EU member state.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Monday, April 12, 2021

Call for papers: Civil Society and Social Movements in Small States

A scholarly book on Civil Society and Social Movements in Small States is being proposed for publication by Routledge. 

In this regard, authors wishing to be considered to author a chapter of this book may wish to send an abstract to michael.briguglio@um.edu.mt 

The coverage of the chapter can be just one small state or a group of small states at the regional or global level. The chapter should be about 6500 words long (including references and appendices), and is to be submitted by the end of this year. Please feel free to share this post to other persons who might be interested in submitting a chapter of the book.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

#Sociology of #SocialMovements, #CivilSociety, #Politics in #Malta

#Sociology of #SocialMovements, #CivilSociety, #Politics in #Malta is a repository of online links to sociological and other scholarly studies, as well as significant news concerning social movements, civil society and politics in Malta. The page is curated by Dr Michael Briguglio, Sociologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Malta. This page welcomes material and links for publication, and will be regularly updated.

You can access the page through this link:

                                                    Photo: The Malta Independent

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Free Speech, Fake Speech - Michael Briguglio

My op-ed article in today's Malta Independent discusses challenges related to free speech and fake speech in democratic societies. You can read the article here:

Free speech, fake speech - The Malta Independent


Friday, March 26, 2021

#Ħsibijiet (79) Roads, Trees and Social Impacts - Michael Briguglio

The current protest by Moviment Graffitti in Dingli and Government's reaction exemplifies the role of social movements in democratic societies. Graffitti's protest repertoire is particularly visible in Malta's public sphere. 

A society without protests is like an ecology without evolution, but on the other hand governments have legitimate authority through democracy. So how can such controversies be tackled? 

Moviment Graffitti's call for dialogue echoes so many other examples of civil society claims about lack of transparent public consultation, particularly on development of land, over the years and under different administrations. 

A few days before the European and Local Elections in 2019, Government, through the Planning Authority, announced a public consultation process for social impact assessments (SIAs).  It would be highly relevant for policy development and implementation, in different areas, to comprise such impact assessments, which in turn should be deliberative and continuous, and not mere rubber stamping or one-off procedures.

I was one of those who sent my proposals to the SIA consultation process, which, in turn were based on the SIA guidelines of the International Association for Impact Assessment. Unfortunately this consultation exercise was not followed up by the same Government. SIAs will not stop political differences, which, after all are essential in democracy, but they can help deliver deeper and more inclusive public consultation.

This takes us to the concept of 'pragmatic adversarialism' proposed by scholars Ralph Tafon, David Howarth and Steven Griggs, which in their words  "highlights the deeply entrenched role of politics in negotiating differences, as rival projects endeavour to impose their wills, while the pragmatic element speaks to the cultivation of an appropriate ethos that should animate those involved in struggle. Adversaries are thus not enemies intent on each other’s mutual destruction, but nor are they just competitors who bargain about outcomes with a fixed set of preferences. Instead, adversaries are encouraged vigorously to espouse their values and ideals, while acknowledging the right of rival forces to articulate and promote their views with equal passion. Indeed, because the expression of divergent ideals can enhance the development and canvassing of a wide spectrum of possible practices, organizational forms and policy outcomes, sharp contestations about outcomes are both inevitable and desirable. In short, in the interests of achieving durable settlements that are legitimate and acceptable to affected citizens, pragmatic adversarialism offers a desirable mode of reaching workable agreements in public controversies".

Photo: The Malta Independent

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

#Ħsibijiet (78) - Hate Speech, Fake News and Ethical Standards - Michael Briguglio

In today's Malta Independent I commented about the hate speech situation in Malta, together with University of Malta colleagues Brenda Murphy and JosAnn Cutajar.

You can read the feature here:

How can we counter online hate speech? It still remains on the rise despite resistance - The Malta Independent

Some further comments from my end:

There are trolls, fake profiles and keyboard warriors who seem to have no problem using abusive language on social media platforms like Facebook. Among the reasons why such language is so present I would assume that as a small island state, many are engaged in hyperpersonal politics which is based on loyalty towards one’s tribe, thus considering the ‘other’ as being wrong merely because of his or her affiliation or non-affiliation. 

Yet we also witness hate speech on the basis of race, gender and other social factors, including personal ones, which is also the case across social media platforms around the world. For example last week AP News reported that white supremacist propaganda surged in the USA last year. This can be linked to the rise of snackable media, the speed of which may impact the quality of deliberation negatively, the strong presence of politics and activism which refuses to engage with the ‘other’, and the challenges faced by policy projects which focus on responsibility and ethics.
I commend recent efforts made by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, wherein they inform readers that the reliability of a source is doubtful or fake. In liberal democratic societies, free speech is a basic right, but readers also have the right to know that the information they are being given is correct. 

At the same time, I also believe that we need a stronger framework for responsible communication. For example, academics are bound by ethical standards when they present findings or quote other studies, and this is only fair. Similarly, ethical standards or norms could bind journalists, politicians, candidates, activists, influencers, bloggers and even the general public. We need to invest more in education through which social media users can be equipped how to distinguish between a reliable source and a fake one, a proper journalist and a self-appointed one, a scientist and a quack. Ethical standards can be set up amongst political and journalistic communities, for example to double-check sources before splashing slogans.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

#Ħsibijiet (77) It-terremot tal-bieraħ

It-terremot tal-bieraħ m'għandux iħallina niġru bl-emozzjonijiet, fejn inħallu t-tribaliżmu joqtol id-deliberazzjoni. Speċjalment jekk irridu politika ħielsa mill-korruzzjoni.

F'demokrazija huwa naturali li jkun hemm pressjoni għall-ġustizzja u governanza tajba. Huwa sinjal tajjeb ukoll li l-isituzzjonijiet legali jidher li qed jagħmlu xogħolhom. Huma l-qrati li għandhom jiddeċiedu dwar dawn il-kwistjonijiet, permezz tal-proċess legali, u mhux il-likes fuq il-Facebook.

F'dak li għandu x'jaqsam mal-proċess politiku, ikun tassew utli jekk ikun hemm qbil bejn in-naħat kollha dwar finanzjament trasparenti u kontabbli, dwar meritokrazija u mhux partitokrazija, dwar rispett lejn l-avversarju u mhux mibgħeda, u dwar teħid tad-deċiżżjonijiet b'mod li ma jiddependix mill-interessi li jiddettaw minn wara l-kwinti (u xi kultant apertament ukoll). Tajjeb ukoll li l-elezzjonijiet ma jkunux tellieqa ta' min iwiegħed l-iktar anke meta dan imur kontra l-ġid komuni. 

                                                    (Stampa: The Malta Independent)

Monday, March 08, 2021

#Ħsibijiet (76) Party political stations?

A current subject under scrutiny in Malta's media and legal spheres concerns party political stations' right to exist. 

Like everyone else, I have my own preferred media, and I trust some sources more than others. I even have the privilege of airing my views in media houses which host me, to whom I am grateful. But that doesn't give me a monopoly over the truth, over what others should watch, read or hear. 

Also, I am not a constitutional expert and I leave legal matters to experts in the field. If I wanted legal advice I would seek it from a lawyer. 

But from a sociological perspective I consider party political stations to be part of the public sphere just as other media is.
One may dislike party political stations, their methods, and what they stand for, but one thing is clear: You know what their agenda is. You may despise it, but you know what its ultimate goal is. Can we say the same of all other media outlets, portals, blogs and so forth? By agenda I am referring to ideological orientation/s, direct/indirect affiliations and networks, behind the scenes operations, personal goals and funding sources. 

Sometimes, one can get a good idea of all this for example through which stories are emphasized, who is picked on, who is spared scrutiny and what is elbowed out of the respective news agenda. Not to mention other factors such as speed, snackability and reliability of news, in a media simulacrum where suddenly everyone can self-proclaim oneself to be an expert of everything, in a competition for audiences. 

Transparency and accountability are paramount, and this holds for all media outlets, and not just those belonging to political parties. These include newspapers, radio stations, blogs, news portals, Facebook news pages, vlogs and so forth. And in today's world nobody is forcing people to watch political party TV or radio stations. Not to mention that time and again, including presently, there have been various instances of programmes, shows, blogs and vlogs which captured huge audiences despite not being produced or endorsed by any political party.
As I see it, competition between narratives and discourses (including fake news), the media and the journalistic profession should be subject to standards, evidence-based reporting, equitable rights and responsibilities within a pluralistic and liberal democratic framework. I wouldn't want the media sphere to be dominated by a monolithic state or partisan propaganda. But neither would I want it to be dominated by agendas which are not always transparent or accountable to democratic norms. 

Let the audience decide what to watch. In the meantime, invest more in education related to social, political and media matters. Let us invest in a more reflexive society, rather than dictating to people which news outlets they should follow. 

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Zero Enforcement - Michael Briguglio

My op-ed article in today's Malta Independent deals with what I am defining as the 'Micro Politics of Everyday Life', in relation to lack of enforcement in Malta.

You can read the article here:

Zero Enforcement - The Malta Independent

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

New Publication: The Daphne Protests at the end of 2019. A Chronology - Michael Briguglio

My latest peer-reviewed article, 'The Daphne Protests at the end of 2019 - A Chronology' has just been published in the Social Conflict Yearbook 2019, by the Observatory of Social Conflict, University of Barcelona.

The article (in English) may be accessed and downloaded from this link:

Las protestas por el asesinato de Daphne Caruana. Una cronología | Briguglio | Anuario del Conflicto Social (ub.edu)

Abstract: This article deals with the escalation of protests in Malta concerning the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia at the end of 2019. The well attended protests continued the trend of civil society activism since the murder of the journalist in 2017. They were characterised by the creation of a broad coalition of social movement organisations, and the eventual resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. 

Keywords: Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Civil Society, Joseph Muscat, Social Movements, Protest

Reference: Briguglio, Michael (2020): The Daphne Protests at the end of 2019 - A Chronology. In: Social Conflict Year Book. Observatory of Social Conflict: Barcelona DOI: 10.1344/ACS2020.10.11

My full list of academic publications can be accessed here:

Michael Briguglio's Blog: My sociological publications (mikes-beat.blogspot.com)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Call for papers RN25 Social movements at the 15th conference of the European Sociological Association

The following call for papers refers. I am a board member of RN25.

Michael Briguglio


 Call for papers RN25 Social movements at the 15th conference of ESA



The 15th conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA) will be held on August 31 to September 3 in Barcelona. The conference will most likely be a hybrid conference in which it will be possible to participate both on site and online (updates on this will come on the conference website). The Research Network on Social Movements (RN25) calls for papers providing theoretical and empirical contributions to current debates on social movements, including but not limited to: 

Ø  spatial and temporal dynamics of collective action

Ø  the interplay between movements and their political/discursive/legal context

Ø  the connections between non-violent action and political violence  

Ø  the connections between contentious and electoral politics  

Ø  the strategic use of protest tactics

Ø  dynamics within and between social movements organisations  

Ø  the role of discourse, framing and narratives in social movements

Ø  populist and radical right movements

Ø  political repression in authoritarian and non-authoritarian states

Ø  online dimensions of mobilization

Ø  the impact of collective action

Ø  urban uprisings and popular revolts

Ø  youth and minority activism.

Comparative works that connect theory and empirical analysis, as well as innovative methodological approaches are particularly encouraged. The section aims to stimulate the debate on the accumulated knowledge and evidence produced in the last years on social movements. We welcome submissions coming from different disciplinary fields. The evaluation criteria of abstracts are: quality and clarity of the research question; clarity of the theoretical argument; the description of the main methodology and data; theoretically original contribution and discussion of available knowledge; relevance and pertinence to central themes within social movement research. 


At the conference RN25 Social movements also organizes a joint session with the Environmental Sociology group:

Climate movements: Contemporary Developments and Challenges

Mitigating, or adapting to, global warming is probably the most consequential political issue of the 21st century. While the world as we know it is increasingly threatened, political action to deal with climate change has been slow and, as yet, far from sufficient. The climate movement continues to struggle and but is faced with numerous challenges, recently including the Covid-19 pandemic. This joint session welcomes research on climate mobilizations not only in Europe and the Global North, but also in the Global South. Priority is given to contributions that address broader issues of relevance to the climate movement as a whole, including conditions affecting mobilization and movement outcomes, movement strategizing as well as fundamental challenges common to climate mobilizations over the world.


To submit Abstracthttps://www.europeansociology.org/conftool-0/abstract-submission 

Thursday, January 21, 2021