The course introduces participants into the study of contentious politics and social movements in various historical periods and distinct parts of the world. With Barrington Moore we ask: “why people so often put up with being the victims of their societies and why at other times they become very angry and try with passion and forcefulness to do something about their situation.” (Injustice. The Social Bases of Obedience and Revolt. New York: M. E. Sharpe 1978: xiii.)
The first part of the course covers theories and historical examples, which help better understand how power relations, political opportunities and risks, availability of allies, utilization of organizational resources, and ideas on the purpose of contentious claims shape peoples’ choices between obedience and revolt.
The second part focuses on the impact of long term processes – such as changing values across generations, increasing dependence on the global economy, the passing of popular involvement in democracy, and the growing tensions between various tasks of good government – on the emergence and spread of particular types of social movements, and movement-based parties. The examples reflect the experience of mature Western and nascent East Central European and East Asian democracies, as well as East European and East Asian authoritarian regimes. In all these cases we shall also investigate the consequences of social movements and social contention for the quality and prospects of democracy and democratization, respectively. The second part concludes with the study economic protest in the current hard times of East European capitalism.