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Latin America differs from our other cases in crucial ways. It did not suffer as badly from the Great Recession as did many other regions, although it experienced its own crisis when the boom in commodity prices burst. And historically, cultural issues over race and ethnicity had not been as politicized as in Europe and North America. Nevertheless, we see a similar causal process in this region as in our other cases. As regional economies suffered, antagonism towards politics as usual increased. The nature of discontent, however, differed radically depending on the details of the dominant political order it opposed. In Brazil, discontent came to resemble Trumpism, with a focus on cultural issues that had been addressed by the formerly dominant Workers’ Party, while also addressing rampant corruption. In Chile, discontent centered on the elitism of Chile’s democracy, and the institutions that reinforced it, placed insurmountable barriers in the path of political outsiders and insurgent parties; as a result, discontent in Chile manifested as mass contention. This chapter uses analysis of existing datasets (including LAPOP and national election studies) to show how economic concerns, exacerbated by democratic deficits, drove discontent over cultural discontent, corruption, and elitism.
The years following the 2008 financial crisis produced a surge of political discontent with populism, conspiracism, and Far Right extremism rising across the world. Despite this timing, many of these movements coalesced around cultural issues rather than economic grievances. But if culture, and not economics, is the primary driver of political discontent, why did these developments emerge after a financial collapse, a pattern that repeats throughout the history of the democratic world? Using the framework of 'Affective Political Economy', The Age of Discontent demonstrates that emotions borne of economic crises produce cultural discontent, thus enflaming conflicts over values and identities. The book uses this framework to explain the rise of populism and the radical right in the US, UK, Spain, and Brazil, and the social uprising in Chile. It argues that states must fulfill their roles as providers of social insurance and channels for citizen voices if they wish to turn back the tide of political discontent.
This Element analyzes the economic and political forces behind the political marginalization of working-class organizations in the region. It traces the roots of labor exclusion to the geopolitics of the early postwar period when many governments rolled back the left and established labor control regimes that prevented the reemergence of working-class movements. This Element also examines the economic and political dynamics that perpetuated labor's containment in some countries and that produced a resurgence of labor mobilization in others in the 21st century. It also explains why democratization has had mixed effects on organized labor in the region and analyzes three distinctive “anatomies of contention” of Southeast Asia's feistiest labor movements in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
This article rethinks the dynamics of collective contention by emphasizing the role of tactical ambiguity. In the face of high political uncertainty, contentious mobilizations work best when they avoid explicit claim-making and engage instead in what I call equivocal challenges—i.e. provocative actions whose meaning will be defined by the response they elicit from specific targets. I provide detailed illustrative support for this argument through a study of the 1948 Bogotazo, by analyzing network data and repertoires of action extracted from archival sources. I conclude that rushed claim-making in contexts of political uncertainty may very well be a losing tactic and that conversely collective equivocation has significant political payoffs.
Chapter 4 describes the Maidan events – the start of the war. Mass social mobilization began when the government rejected an EU trade agreement. It ended with a regime change. These protests marked the first time since independence that police used excessive force against protesters in a significant way. A radical subset of protesters then used violence strategically against the police. The Party of Regions imploded and power transferred to the opposition. This created a crisis of political legitimacy and two opposing narratives. In one narrative, the illegitimate police violence against protesters finished the regime (“Revolution of Dignity”). In the other, the street violence against the police created an illegitimate political outcome (“fascist coup”). Anti-Maidan protesters in the East formed militias, acting on the second narrative. The roots of Ukraine’s war – whatever one calls it – can thus be traced to Maidan.
Tripoli, October 2019: Young people from various religious backgrounds and all walks of life sang and danced together in the city’s central al-Nour Square, shattering the myth of Tripoli as a ‘cradle of terrorism’ or ‘citadel of Muslims’. The Islamists who had often dominated Tripoli’s urban space retreated, and youths, families, and members of the educated middle class filled al-Nour Square during Lebanon’s revolutionary moment.
Why and how did Tripoli become the country’s prime centre of contentious politics in otherwise-peripheral Lebanon?
The introduction presents the main argument of the book, introducing the concepts of the dethronement of secondary cities, politics of autochthony, and erosion of city corporatism in Tripoli. It then discusses the broader lessons of the Tripoli case, which speak to three strands of literature: studies of Lebanon and the Levant; discussions on sectarianization in the Middle East; and debates on the ‘Sunni Crisis’ in the Middle East. Lastly, the research methods used for data collection are presented.
The 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri unleashed a political earthquake in Lebanon. Tripoli and its surroundings became a Sunni base for the Future Movement, led by Rafiq Hariri’s son Saad and other neoliberal elites from Lebanon’s nouveaux riches political class. For the first time, Tripolitanians rallied around a political party based outside their own city.
Many Tripolitanians supported the Future Movement in 2005 because they hoped that Saad Hariri, with his personal wealth and connections to Saudi Arabia, might bring investments to marginalized areas in northern Lebanon. However, these expectations were not met.
The Future Movement was an elite-based party, and its strategies of outreach to the poor had severe shortcomings. It used divisive sectarian (anti-Shiʿi) electoral strategies in Tripoli and empowered Sunni radicals, leading to a spiral of violence. Sunni hardliners gained prominent roles in Tripoli after Hizbullah and its allies turned their weapons inwards in Beirut in May 2008. However, this sectarian resource was insufficient to help the Future Movement maintain its popularity in Tripoli in the long run.
In January 1909, the students of the Azhar, the Islamic world’s most prestigious university, went on strike. Protesting recent curricular and administrative changes introduced by the Egyptian Khedive, they demanded increased material support and asserted the university’s right to govern itself. After several weeks of demonstrations that drew thousands of supporters into the streets of Cairo, the Khedive suspended the reforms that first caused the Azharis to walk out. Oddly, this remarkable mobilization has nearly vanished into obscurity. Drawing on reporting from the Egyptian press and intelligence memoranda from the Egyptian Ministry of Interior, this article argues that the apparent incongruity of Azharis on strike was no mistake. Their willful rejection of ascribed categories helps to explain both why this movement of unionized seminarians speaking a language of self-government proved so striking for contemporary supporters and critics alike and why this event has slipped through the cracks of a historiography still framed by those very categories. Long forgotten in histories of both nationalism and organized labor, the Azhar strike represented a pivotal moment in the emergence of mass politics in Egypt. In invoking “union,” the Azharis engaged in multiple, overlapping acts of comparison. Inspired by the modular repertoires of militant labor, they simultaneously hailed the constitutional revolution of the Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress as a model for political transformation. Rooted in a self-conscious critique of colonial comparativism, their struggle thereby furnished new materials with which to elaborate a telescopic series of anti-colonial solidarities that were themselves fundamentally comparative.
The watershed in modern Chinese politics known as the May Fourth Movement (1919) offers insights into how a single protest event can quickly diffuse to other regions, draw in new participants and produce legacies in contentious politics. This article examines the May Fourth protests from the perspective of “eventful sociology” – an approach that examines how protests, repression and other contingent events link together to bring about landmark political episodes. It traces the sequence of protest and repression events in Beijing and draws on an original database of protest and repression events in Shanghai to emphasize the haphazard sequencing of actions and information flows that led the Chinese government to reverse its stance and concede to protestors’ demands. An eventful account illustrates how past protest sequences can produce a long-term impact on subsequent protest events. It also calls for greater awareness of “single sparks” that initiate protest sequences and unexpected political outcomes.
Social movements have an elusive power but one that is altogether real. From the French and American revolutions to the Arab Spring, and to ethnic and terrorist movements of today, contentious politics exercises a fleeting but powerful influence on politics, society and international relations. Covering key episodes up to the attack on the US Capitol in January 2021, leading scholar of politics and government Sidney Tarrow uses a number of recent, historical and comparative case studies to introduce his theory of social movements and political parties. The fourth edition of this classic study emphasizes the symbiotic relations between social movements and parties by focusing attention on the growing role of populism in Europe, Latin America, and the US; analyzes the role of social media as a mobilizing and aggregating force for social movements; highlights the relations between structural changes in the economy and new forms of contention; draws on new material on movements in the Global South and the relations between movements and democracy.
Social movements have often played an important role in emergencies, mobilising in defence of those rights that they perceive as being at risk or more urgently needed than ever. In general, progressive social movements develop in moments of intense change, mobilising with the aim of turning them to their advantage. the variable mix of challenges and opportunities related to a critical juncture. The specific balance of challenges and opportunities faced by progressive social movements during the Covid-19 crisis is a central question addressed in this volume. Based on existing research on the first phases of the pandemic Covid-19, this Element addresses the ways in with the health emergency had an impact on the repertoire of action, the organizational networks and the collective framing of progressive social movements that adapted to the pandemic conditions and the related crises, but also tried to transform them.
While processes of land-use change have triggered conflicts across Asia, our knowledge of the responses of affected communities is largely based on case-studies. This review essay addresses this challenge by reviewing and synthesizing 49 studies of conflicts between rural communities and companies in order to identify salient characteristics of anti-corporate activism in Indonesia. We find that, in contrast to the ‘rightful resistance’ observed elsewhere, the strategies employed by rural communities in Indonesia are remarkably “rightless” as both their discourse and their conflict resolution efforts are marked by a remarkable irrelevance of laws, regulations and courts. Communities frame their claims mostly in terms of customary laws while largely relying on informal mediation by local authorities. We attribute this “rightless” character of land-use change conflicts to the weak legal protection of land rights in Indonesia and the relative powerlessness of communities in the face of collusion between authorities and companies.
New social forces that emerge as part of the process of development turn structural change into political change. Their struggles for representation and incorporation occupy a prominent place in our understanding of regime change. Even elite-driven democratic transitions necessitate moments of mass mobilization that push liberalization into regime change. Many scholars also contend that an active citizenry leads to democratic stability via more effective government. In contrast, others warn that a mobilized and polarized civil society can undermine democracy – particularly if the demands of social forces outstrip the capacity of institutions to process them. In this chapter, we explore the effects of social organization and mobilization on democracy. Using the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) and Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO) data, we gauge the extent to which organized and mobilized social forces are responsible for levels and changes in democracy. We find that civil society participation and nonviolent protest positively affect democracy and that rightwing anti-system movements constitute the largest threat to democracy.
The uprisings that shook the Middle East in 2011 shaped the subsequent decade of civil wars, coups and political crisis. The ‘Arab Spring’ has, therefore, come to be seen as a failure – a failure of transition from authoritarian to democratic regimes. Such transitions were expected to follow the model established in the last quarter of the twentieth century, producing only political rather than social transformation. Rather than revolutions, however, the 2011 uprisings have come to be seen as at most unsuccessful revolts. The reasons for this failure are typically ascribed to peculiarities of the region, in the presence of Islamist oppositions, sectarian division and external intervention into relatively weak states. Yet the crushing of the Arab uprisings represents not an inevitable failure or defeat but success: the success of counter-revolution.
Civil society leaders develop relationships with officials and engage in contentious politics. Some resort to destructive tactics like arson and assault to target the officials they work with. Why do civil society leaders use destructive protest tactics? This article argues that leaders use destructive tactics when both they and officials need clear information and when leaders believe that officials will offer lucrative agreements to stop destructive protests. The research suggests that this dynamic is more likely in weakly institutionalized, highly politicized, and resource-strapped environments. The research supports the argument by process-tracing cases of peaceful and destructive protest by street vendor organizations and officials’ responses in El Alto, Bolivia. The argument and cases suggest that civil society leaders are more likely to target women and other minoritized people because leaders are more likely to underestimate minoritized officials, but that these officials are then more likely to punish the perpetrators.
Chapters 7 unpacks how lawyers can serve as brokers of compliance when controversial judicial decisions spark backlash. As European integration became politicized from the 1990s onwards, disruptive European Union (EU) laws and European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions have often provoked on-the-ground resistance. Yet these controversies can also open surprising opportunities for court-driven change, provided that Euro-lawyers mobilize as "interpretive mediators:" Public advocates who vernacularize EU law and rally local stakeholders and the press to promote compliance. The chapter develops a case study design to compare lawyers' role in two explosive controversies that generated litigation before the ECJ: The 1991 Port of Genoa case (analyzed in this Chapter), which quashed the control over port labor of a centenarian union of dockworkers, and the 2015 Xylella case (analyzed in Chapter 8), which mandated the eradication of thousands of centenarian olive trees. The chapter traces how Euro-lawyers in the Port of Genoa case preempted backlash and promoted compliance by mobilizing public and interest group support via media savvy advocacy. It speaks to readers interested in how contentious politics transform legal mobilization, how lawyers cultivate people's legal consciousness when the law is politicized, and how these efforts shape judicial policymaking and Europeanization.
Chapter 8 unpacks how the absence of Euro-lawyering and mediatory public advocacy can embolden on-the-ground backlash to European Union (EU) laws and European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions. The chapter contrasts Chapter 7's analysis of the Port of Genoa case with a similarly explosive controversy yielding a far more regressive outcome: The 2015 Xylella case. As a plant pathogen described as "the coronavirus of olive trees" began devastating olive groves in southern Italy, the European Commission and the ECJ intervened by mandating the eradication of thousands of diseased trees. Farmers revolted against these decisions and called for disobedience, yet a legacy of noncompliance was hardly inevitable. Contentious resistance proliferated because it unfolded in a context devoid of Euro-lawyers ready to proactively advocate for compliance in a way that resonated with local stakeholders, judges, and journalists. In fact, some local lawyers and judges even joined resistance efforts and began trafficking in conspiracy. The chapter speaks to readers interested in how contentious politics can produce a defiant legal consciousness, how this consciousness can diffuse from the streets to the bar and bench, and how it threatens to corrode the judicial construction of Europe.
This article examines the origins and dynamics of an extraordinary wave of protests in Hong Kong in 2019–2020. Despite lacking visible political opportunities and organizational resources, the protest movement drew resilient, mass participation unparalleled in the city's history and much of the world. Drawing from original on-site surveys and online datasets, we conceptualize the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement as a form of “total mobilization from below.” The totality of the mobilization depended on a set of interactive mechanisms: abeyant civil society networks concealed after the 2014 Umbrella Movement were activated by threats over extradition and institutional decay, whereas affective ties developed through conflicts and mutual assistance were amplified by digital communication. The movement's characteristics in terms of protest scale, mobilizing structure, use of alternative spaces, and group solidarity are examined. The spasmodic moments of mobilization are explained by a nexus of network building that took place in an unreceptive environment and at a critical juncture. The roles of threats and emotions in mass mobilizations are also analysed.
This paper aims to address an important yet under-studied issue – how does violence from the side of the protestors affect overseas support for a democratic movement? The importance of this question is twofold. First, while violence and radicalization are not exactly unfamiliar territories for scholars of contentious politics, they do not receive as much attention when their effects spill beyond the domestic arenas. Second, this study seeks to examine international solidarity with democratic movements at the civil society level, which differs substantially from the conventional elite-centric approach when it comes to the intersection between democratization and international relations. Against this backdrop, this paper considers the relationship between violent tactics employed by the protestors during the anti-extradition movement and the sentiment expressed by people elsewhere towards the protests. To this end, a total of 9,659,770 tweets were extracted using Twitter Application Programming Interface during the period of 1 June 2019–31 January 2020. Leveraging computational methods such as topic modelling and sentiment analysis, findings in this paper demonstrate that a majority of foreign Twitter users were supportive of the protestors while held relatively negative sentiments against the government as well as the police. In addition, this study reveals that, broadly speaking, violence might cost a democratic movement by its international support, but could also garner more attention at times. Despite its restricted scope, this paper hopefully will shed some useful light on the dynamics underlying international solidarity for a democratic movement abroad as well as the complex mechanisms of interactions between people who protest at home and those who observe from overseas.
How does repression on opposition protests affect citizens' institutional trust under dictatorships? There has been a burgeoning literature investigating empirically both long- and short-term impacts of protests and their repression on citizens' political preferences in both democratic and nondemocratic contexts. Yet, the literature tells us relatively little about how the above question could be answered. This paper tries to answer this question by taking advantage of a recent natural experiment in Hong Kong when Beijing suddenly adopted the National Security Law (NSL) in June 2020 to repress dissidents' protest mobilization. Our findings are twofold. First of all, the NSL drove a wedge in the Hong Kong society by making the pro-establishment camp more satisfied with the post-NSL institutions on the one hand, while alienating the pro-democracy camp who lost tremendous trust in them on the other. Second, our study also reveals that one's trust in institutions is significantly associated with the regimes' ability to curb protesters' contentious mobilization. The Hong Kongers who had higher confidence in the NSL to rein in protests would also have a greater level of trust than those who didn't. The effect, however, is substantially smaller among pro-democracy Hong Kongers except for their trust in monitoring institutions. As Beijing is transforming Hong Kong's current institutions from within hopes of bringing about a new political equilibrium, our study helps provide a timely assessment of Hong Kong's institutional landscape and sheds light on how likely this strategy can work.