The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest

Benjamin Abrams, University College London
Giovanni A. Travaglino, Royal Holloway, University of London

Subjects: Protest Movements, Social Movements, Social Theory, Political Theory



Latest Issue Table of Contents

Volume 11 (2023): Issue 2 (Dec 2023)

Contention - Volume 11, Issue 2
Table of Contents

Benjamin Abrams and Peter Gardner

Peaceful or Disciplined? Perceived efficiency and legitimacy of nonviolent protest by novices and repeaters in South Korean candlelight protests
Joohyun Park

Goals, Strategies, and Tactics: Continuity and Change in Extinction Rebellion in the UK
Benjamin Farrer

The Political Economy of Learning in Agrarian Contention: Transnational Networks and Inter-Racial Alliance Formation
Anthony Robert Pahnke

Symposium on Ethnoracial Violence: A Checkerboard of Ethnoracial Violence
Loïc Wacquant

On violence, race, and social theory: Thinking with Wacquant and Du Bois
Ali Meghji

Volume 12 / 2024, 2 issues per volume (summer, winter)

Aims & Scope

Contention is dedicated to research on social protest, collective action and contentious politics. As a multidisciplinary journal, Contention’s mission is to bridge scholarly divides and promote knowledge exchange across a diverse audience of scholars in the social sciences and humanities. The journal publishes articles by academics and practitioners on topics spanning the full range of social and political contention.

Contention welcomes research articles that expand our knowledge of contentious politics and social protest, as well as novel theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions as well as critical review articles, and book reviews of new or noteworthy texts. For more on how we conceptualize the journal's mission, please see Contention's 10th anniversary article, "The Meaning of Contention".

Examples of suitable topics for Contention include but are not limited to:

  • Comparative studies of social movements
  • Analyses of revolutions or revolutionary waves
  • Quantitative research on protest
  • Ethnographic and historical analyses of past or present instances of contention
  • Social and political theory or methodology
  • Sociopsychological analysis of social protest and collective action
  • Pedagogical implications of social change
  • Legal and economic implications of social movements
  • Artistic or literary dimensions of social protest
  • In-depth empirical reports on recent protests or social movements
  • Movement-writing by practitioners and organizers


Contention is indexed/abstracted in:

  • European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS)
  • Scopus (Elsevier)

Benjamin Abrams, University College London, UK
Giovanni A. Travaglino, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Deputy Chief Editors
Brian Callan, Goldsmiths, University of LondonUK
Peter R. Gardner, University of YorkUK

Associate Editors
Cristina d'Aniello, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
Marco Ciziceno, University of Palermo, Italy
Robyn Gulliver, University of Queensland, Australia
Kai Heron, University of Manchester, UK
Alberto Mirisola, University of Palermo, Italy
Matthew Ogilvie, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
Adrian Paukstat, Augsburg University, Germany
Fabio Poppi, University of Łódź, Poland
Rose Rickford, University of York, UK
Rim Saab, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Felicity Turner-Zwinkels, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Emily Westwell, Keele University, UK

Advisory Board
Manuel Castells, University of Cambridge, UK
Donatella Della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy
John Drury, University of Sussex, UK
Bob Edwards, East Carolina University, USA
Howard Giles, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Jeff Goodwin, New York University, USA
Peter Grant, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University, USA
John Jost, New York University, USA
Fabio M. Lo Verde, University of Palermo, Italy
Alice Mattoni, Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy
Giovanni Piazza, University of Catania, Italy
Chris Pickvance, University of Kent, UK
Stephen Reicher, University of St Andrews, UK
Conny Roggeband, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Christopher Rootes, University of Kent, UK


Manuscript Submissions

Please review the submission and style guide carefully before submitting.

Contention accepts research articles with novel findings, critical review articles (5,000 to 9,000 words, including notes and references), theoretical essays, and book reviews (800 to 1,200 words). Contention also accepts commentaries aiming at increasing interdisciplinary debate between authors. Academics may propose a commentary to one of the articles published or may be invited by the editors to comment on an article submitted for publication.

Please submit articles using the online system at

Authors must register with the journal on the submission website before submitting, or, if already registered, they can simply log in. Authors have the option, on registering as an Author, of also registering as a Reviewer.

For general manuscript and journal inquiries, please contact the editors at

View Guest Editor Guidelines here.

Have other questions? Please refer to the Berghahn Info for Authors page for general information and guidelines including topics such as article usage and permissions for Berghahn journal article authors.

Special Issues

Contention will also take into consideration opportunities to publish special thematic issues. The journal editors, who invited guest editors, or scholars in the field can initiate special issues. To propose an idea for a special issue that you would like to guest edit, contact the editors at to discuss the suitability and details of the project.

Book Reviews

Please see the general Contention submission guide for formatting, style, and submission details.

Contention welcomes reviews of new books, articles, and conference papers or, exceptionally, of new editions of older influential books. Reviews should be 800 to 1,200 words. Each review should be accompanied by a cover page with the following information:

  • Name of Author (or Editor)
  • Book Title
  • Place of Publication
  • Publisher
  • Year of Publication
  • ISBN: 000-0-000000-0
  • Number of Pages
  • Hardback or Paperback
  • Price

The review should provide a short and clear overview of the work's content, as well as an estimation about its intended audience. In like with Contention's multidisciplinary audience, book reviews that link two or more fields of research or that illustrates the benefit of a book for relevant disciplines are especially welcomed.

The review should also be a critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the book, with the intellectual vigorousness, accuracy, and the high standards expected in any academic article. These evaluations can consider methodological concerns, evidence provided for the argument, and comparisons with other works on related subjects, where appropriate. Contention aims to publish book reviews that are more than mere descriptions of the work.

Ethics Statement

Authors published in Contention certify that their works are original and their own. The editors certify that all materials, with the possible exception of editorial introductions, book reviews and some types of commentary, have been subjected to double-blind peer review by qualified scholars in the field. While the publishers and the editorial board make every effort to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinions or statements appear in this journal, they wish to make clear that the data and opinions appearing in the articles herein are the sole responsibility of the contributor concerned. For a more detailed explanation concerning these qualifications and responsibilities, please see the complete Contention ethics statement.

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Contention is indexed/abstracted in the European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS), and Scopus (Elsevier).

Protest Activity, Social Incentives, and Rejection Sensitivity

Results from a Survey Experiment about Tuition Fees

People may engage in protest activity either because of collective incentives or selective incentives, or a combination of them. In this study we focus on the selective incentives part of the calculus of political participation, particularly the impact of the social dimension. We hypothesize that people will participate in demonstrations or other forms of protest, to a higher extent if they are afraid of rejection, but only if they feel that they have high social support for their own position. This hypothesis was supported in an online survey experiment where social support was manipulated. Results also revealed that individuals who were highly rejection sensitive were among the most likely to participate even though they did not believe protest activity to be an efficient way to bring about social change. This supports the notion that some individuals tend to engage in protest activity for purely social reasons. However it is still unclear whether these individuals are driven by an approach motivation to establish new social bonds or an avoidance motivation to escape possible social rejection.

This Is the Time of Tension

Collective Action and Subjective Power in the Greek Anti-Austerity Movement

Greece has been one of the countries which most severely suffered the consequences of the global economic crisis during the past two years. It has also been a country with a long tradition of protest. The present paper reports a study in which we examined the ways in which people talk about subjective power and deal with the outcome of collective action in the context of defeat. Subjective power has recently become a prominent field of research and its link to collective action has been studied mainly through the concept of collective efficacy. The current study explored questions based on recent social identity accounts of subjective power in collective action. We examined participants’ experiences of subjective power before and after Mayday 2012, in Greece. Two different collective action events took place: a demonstration against austerity and a demonstration to support steel workers who were on strike. In total, 19 people were interviewed, 9 before the demonstrations and 10 after. Thematic analysis was carried out. Protest participants talked about power in terms of five first-order themes: the necessity of building power, unity, emotional effects, effects of (dis)organization, and support as success. The steel workers we spoke to experienced the events more positively than the other interviewees and had different criteria for success. Theories of collective action need to take account of the fact that subjective power has important emotional as well as cognitive dimensions, and that definitions of success depend on definitions of identity.

Modern Revolutions and Beyond

An Interview with John Dunn


John Dunn, FBA, is emeritus professor of political theory at King’s College, University of Cambridge. His work on revolution began in 1972 with the publication of his landmark volume, Modern Revolutions: An Introduction to the Analysis of a Political Phenomenon. A second edition was published in 1989, and the volume has since been translated into several foreign languages. Alongside revolution, Dunn’s thought has examined questions of regime collapse, reconstruction, the political trajectories of modern states, and the emergence and significance of democracy. His work lies at the intersection of history, political theory, and sociology. In the interview, Dunn offers a categorization of revolution as a distinctly bounded historical phenomenon that has not persisted into the twenty-first century. “The Epoch of Revolution,” he argues, begins with 1789 and had definitively ended by 1989. After the Epoch of Revolution, Dunn argues, we now confront a more enduring and generic phenomenon: regime collapse.

Aotearoa (also known as New Zealand) is a jurisdiction that must respond to the inequitable elements of the multifaceted oppressions of its colonizing past and present if it is to live up to its claim to being an honorable nation. Early intensification of colonizing practices embedded European values over those of the indigenous people with lasting devastating effects. In search of a national integrity, activist traditions of exposure, resistance, dissent and non-violent direct action to injustices are longstanding in this land. Activist scholarship however, is a more recent phenomenon. We explore the potential of activist scholarship to contribute more directly to transformations that will embed justice in the diverse sociopolitical economic context of New Zealand. We outline what we understand by activist scholarship and how we believe it can strengthen both sociopolitical activism and academic scholarship in synergistic ways. We propose seven principles of activist scholarship, generated through on-going dialogue with our activist scholar peers. We offer them as a starting point for discussion and critique until a collective statement emerges. We showcase Ngāpuhi Speaks as an example of such potential synergies.

Social Protest and Its Discontents

A System Justification Perspective


Psychological factors that encourage—as well as discourage—participation in social protest are often overlooked in the social sciences. In this article, we draw together recent contributions to the understanding of the social and psychological bases of political action and inaction from the perspective of system justification theory. This perspective, which builds on theory and research on the “belief in a just world,” contends that—because of underlying epistemic, existential, and relational needs to reduce uncertainty, threat, and social discord—people are motivated (to varying degrees, as a function of personality and context) to defend, bolster, and justify the legitimacy of the social, political, and economic systems on which they depend. We review evidence that, alongside political conservatism and religiosity, system justification helps to explain resistance and acquiescence to the status quo in sociopolitical contexts as diverse as Lebanon, New Zealand, Argentina, and the United States.