Political Science | Social Movements and Protest in Democracies
Y200 | 3928 | Schnyder
This course focuses on the various theoretical perspectives and
substantive issues surrounding the causes and consequences of social
movements. With increasing frequency, advanced democracies are
experiencing citizen action that takes place outside of political
institutions. Change throughout these societies has generally come
from protest movements operating outside (but sometimes within) the
political system. Many of the characteristics of these societies
that we take for granted – for example, voting rights or organized
labor – have their origins in the struggles of organized social
movements. In order to understand contemporary politics in advanced
democracies, one must examine more closely the history and influence
of these movements.
This course will examine different theories and case studies of
social movements. The major theoretical perspectives (collective
behavior, rational actor, resource mobilization, and new social
movements) will be examined in light of specific case studies.
Through the examination of these case studies - including the
environmental, human rights, new left, women’s, and civil rights
movements - the class will focus on three basic sets of questions:
under what circumstances do social movements emerge?; how do
participants choose political strategies?; and, in what ways do
social movements influence more conventional politics?
As mentioned above, the case studies will include the environmental
movement, human rights movement, new left/peace movement, women’s
movement, and the civil rights movement (and, if we have time, the
labor movement). Case studies of counter-movements will cover the
anti-abortion, anti-globalization, and anti-immigration movements.
Students will examine the case studies through a combination of
collaborative and individual work. Each student will have the
opportunity to pay particular attention to one of the featured
movements. Together, the class will explore the factors affecting
the emergence, growth, structure, and impact of social movements as
their participants seek to transform social relationships and
restructure social values.