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Protest Wave or Protest Spike?

An Examination of European Protest Activity, 2008–2012

Matthew Schoene

Recent scholarly attention has designated European protest activity from 2011 to 2013 a “protest wave,” a term with specific sociological meaning. While many European countries indeed experienced a period of unrest, I argue that for protest activity to be considered a wave, the protest in question must be significantly higher than normative levels of participation. To this end, I conceptualize national protest culture as an explanatory factor for recent protest activity. Using the European Social Survey, a series of multilevel mixed effects regression models for 22 countries demonstrates that the most powerful predictor of protest in 2012 is the protest rate for each country in 2008. I therefore question this period’s designation as a protest wave and instead choose to refer to it as a set of discrete protest spikes.

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Days in Cairo

Thoughts from the Midan

Hania Sholkamy

On 25 January 2011, Egyptians took to the streets to protest against injustice and oppression. These public demonstrations lasted for three weeks, during which this peaceful tidal wave of people did not abate, culminating in the resignation of Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak. These field notes, taken during two days of the protests, register the pendulum swings from hope to fear as recorded by one Egyptian anthropologist.

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Pollyanna Ruiz

In The Practice of Everyday Life, de Certeau likens himself to a Solar Eye reading the city spread out like a text below. He compares this all-seeing position to the enmeshed position of those whose intermingled footsteps pass through the city streets, writing stories that deliberately elude legibility. These two ways of experiencing the city offer a theoretical frame through which I will explore both the administration of protest spaces, and protesters’ ongoing attempts to subvert and evade those controls. In doing so, this contribution will examine the way in which the police practice of kettling depends upon the police’s ability to draw a series of distinctions between ‘good’ protesters who comply with state demands, and ‘bad’ protesters who err from official routes. It will go onto to explore the way in which the practice of maptivism impacts upon protesters’ ability to occupy city spaces and resist the totalizing administrations of the state.

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Shutting Down Protest

Policing, International Summitry, and the G20 Experiment in Brisbane

Binoy Kampmark

This article considers social control mechanisms that targeted public protest at a particular summit, the Brisbane G20, first by examining the management of previous gatherings (Miami and Toronto), and then by looking at the more specific, nuanced techniques deployed in Brisbane in 2014. Despite its violence, the Toronto G20 added a few legal and policing innovations, including designated free speech zones, controlled areas of movement, and, albeit unsuccessfully, the extensive use of public relations. The lessons of Toronto were directly incorporated into the security architecture of Brisbane’s policing and social control effort. Brisbane witnessed one of the more successful efforts at limiting and arguably shutting down social protest in its entirety. Protest narratives were fastidiously managed and shaped by the Queensland Police Service and affiliated agencies. As a response, alternative protest techniques, including counter-summits, were ostensibly fashioned to circumvent such a restrictive security architecture, but were marginalized in doing so.

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Rage and Protest

The Case of the Greek Indiginant Movement

Marilena Simiti

In 2011 numerous 'Occupy' and anti-austerity protests took place across Europe and the United States. Passionate indignation at the failure of political elites became a mobilizing force against formal political institutions. In Greece a mass movement known as the Aganaktismeni (the Indignant) became the main agent of social resistance to the memorandum signed by the Greek government, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The Greek movement did not take the form of a social movement sharing a collective identity. Left-wing protestors played a prominent role. Protestors embracing right-wing populist frames also participated actively in collective mobilizations, while segments of the extreme right attempted to manipulate rage to their advantage. During the Greek Indignant movement civil society remained a terrain contested by conflicting political forces. This unique feature of the Greek movement posed a completely different challenge to the principles of diversity and inclusiveness than the one debated within the Spanish Indignados and the Occupy protests. Furthermore, it illustrates that rage and indignation may spark dissimilar forms of political contention. Hence, rage and indignation do not merely motivate ‘passive citizens’ to participate in collective protest. They are linked to cognitive frames and individual preferences, which influence protestors’ claims and mobilizations’ political outcomes. Accordingly, advances in democratization and inclusive citizenship are only one of the possible outcomes of mobilizations prompted by rage and indignation.

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2012 Quebec Student Protests

Some Observations on Motives, Strategies, and Their Consequences on the Reconfigurations of State and Media

Audrey Laurin-Lamothe and Michel Ratte

The first part of this article reports the main events of the 2012 student protest in Quebec leading to the government’s adoption of Bill 12. It highlights the major ideological conflict generated through the liberal managerial mutation of the academic institutions as a key to understand more clearly the student’s claims. Rapidly, the standard strike was transformed into a massive mobilization that produced many protests and other forms of resistance. The response given by the government to these unprecedented acts of resistance was Bill 12, to be understood as a symbolic coup d’état with voluntarily disruptive media effects whose aim was to make people forget the massive rejection of a pseudo tentative agreement in relation to Higher Education reform. The bill was also supported through the abusive and twisted use by the government of a series of buzzwords, like “bullying” and “access to education”, which were relayed by the media. The authors also discuss the issues surrounding the traditional conceptions regarding the analysis of discourses, mobilizing Orwell’s concept of doublethink and the notion of selfdeception inherited form Sartre.

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Social Protest and Its Discontents

A System Justification Perspective

Vivienne Badaan, John T. Jost, Danny Osborne, Chris G. Sibley, Joaquín Ungaretti, Edgardo Etchezahar and Erin P. Hennes

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.

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Creating Space for Protest and Possibility

Nimbin, Australia, from 1973

Rob Garbutt

This article brings together the ideas of protest and counterculture in a productive engagement. If protest is understood as publicly bearing witness in opposition to something, then countercultures often do this as rejections of dominant cultures that are folded into everyday life in order to create spaces for possible futures. The countercultural experiments undertaken in the region around Nimbin, Australia, are an example of such space creation. Using interviews, presentations, and archival materials collected at a 2013 community conference marking the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Nimbin Aquarius Festival, I will explore these experiments in the context of countercultural protest. The Festival not only gathered together people under the banner of the counterculture, but provided a unique space for gathering around common matters of concern to create an ongoing countercultural community. This community continues to develop practical knowledge regarding sustainable living and innovations in grassroots environmental protest.

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Marjo de Theije

Based on research in Brazil, the author discusses three local situations of conflict and social protest, using a transnational perspective. She concentrates on the use of universal claims of Catholicism in local negotiations of religious change under the influence of different cultural campaigns. The clashes in question are divided into those involving local political problems and those concerning the religious domain itself. The analysis shows that in each of the cases—albeit with different intensity and outcome—the interconnection between translocal processes and the meaning and experience of locality has a significant role in the power plays and the formulations of religious or social protest in the local context.

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Protest and resilience on World Peace Island

The nonviolent resistance of a South Korean village against the construction of a naval base

Carole Reckinger

Since 2007, a small fishing village on the island of Jeju in South Korea has been fighting the decision to build a naval base next door to a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This article takes a closer look at the civil disobedience movement, based on the author's primary observations and impressions. Furthermore, it analyzes the environmental, geostrategic, and economic arguments put forward by the government and the protesters' subsequent response. In this fight between David and Goliath, the Gangjeong protest, more than having the actual power to stop the construction, is an example of citizens from all walks of life no longer quietly accepting disregard for democratic values.