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Heather Came, Joey MacDonald and Maria Humphries

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.

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The Silent Spring

Why Pro-democracy Activity Was Avoided in Gulf Nations during the Arab Spring

Charles Mitchell, Juliet Dinkha and Aya Abdulhamid

This article explores the Arab Spring uprisings that started in late 2010, and investigates why pro-democracy movements were circumvented in most Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Our research is qualitative in nature, and looks into the antecedents of the revolts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen to ascertain why revolutionary activity was precluded in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Through the utilization of academic research, news sources, governmental, intergovernmental organization, and international nongovernmental organization reports and policy papers, we conclude that the generous allocations of public goods and the extant and reactive government policies during the Arab Spring period successfully preempted revolutionary activities in the Gulf. In this article, we also examine the only Gulf country outlier, Bahrain, by investigating what policies and conditions led to outbreaks of large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in that nation.

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How Movements Are Mediated

The Case of the Hungarian Student Network in 2012–2013

Bálint Takács, Sára Bigazzi, Ferenc Arató and Sára Serdült

This article examines media representations of statements made by the 2012 student movement in Hungary. We analyzed a total of 138 articles from two main Hungarian online journals. We found that both outlets focused strictly on the movement’s specific claims about educational policy but neglected to report on the broader political-ideological claims that it made. The emphasized claims reflected the specific political agenda of each outlet, with both newspapers also framing events according to the outlook of Hungary’s dominant political establishment (Fidesz). We then traced the dialogue between the Hungarian government and the student movement over time. We found that the movement was the much more active partner in this dialogue. We coded the co-occurrences of psycholinguistic markers, testing perspective-taking as a requirement for dialogue. The results indicated that the dialogue was a pretense of negotiation from the government and ended with insignificant adjustments to its original plans.

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Frank Decker and Lazaros Miliopoulos

Right-wing extremist and populist parties operate in a rather difficult social and political environment in Germany, rendering notable electoral success fairly improbable, especially when compared to other European countries. The main reason for this is the continuing legacy of the Nazi past. Nevertheless the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) managed to gain substantial votes in recent Land elections and became the leading force in the right-wing extremist political camp. Its success is attributable to rightwing extremist attitudes in some parts of the electorate in connection with a widespread feeling of political discontent. Nevertheless, it is questionable whether the NPD will be able to transform these attitudes into a viable ideological basis for two main reasons. On the one hand, maintaining a neo-Nazi ideology makes the NPD unattractive to many potential voters. On the other hand, given its internal power struggles and severe financial problems, the party may be unable to meet its challenges in organizational terms.

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Hanno Balz

This article examines the changes in social movements, in particular the peace movement since the late 1970s, their processes of differentiation as well as their connections to older aspects of the movements. Of particular interest is the breadth of the peace movement, which succeeded in mobilizing several hundred thousand persons at the beginning of the 1980s. How points of conflict developed between this movement and an antiwar movement led by a “new youth movement” around 1980 is the focus of this article.

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The District Leadership Cadre of the Stasi

Who Were These Men and Why Did They Not Crush Mass Protest in 1989?

Uwe Krähnke, Anja Zschirpe, Matthias Finster, Philipp Reimann and Scott Stock Gissendanner

More than twenty-five years after the revolution that toppled the German Democratic Republic, we still know little about the personnel of the organization that should have prevented it: the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi). This article reports on an individual-level investigation of the entire Stasi leadership cadre of the Karl-Marx-Stadt district with information on socioeconomic status, careers, institutional constraints and organizational culture. Although a generational cleavage was evident, we argue that Stasi leadership was so deeply convinced of socialism’s superiority and so thoroughly habituated to the bureaucratic routine of the normal “party soldier” that it was caught utterly by surprise with no plan to annihilate massive opposition from within.

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Michael Provence

Since March 2011, Syrian citizens have challenged their government through street protests and, more recently, armed confrontations. Both the protest movement and the government’s response to it have their roots in the recent past. This article examines the contours of the last decade, and events in Syria since 2011, to understand the origins of popular protest and the origins of the Syrian government’s largely military response. Protest and dissent appeared after Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000. The government’s response to such protest was not predetermined, but was rather the result of specific governing structures and political choices made by state elites.

Free access

Benjamin Abrams and Giovanni A. Travaglino

When we think about protest, we often associate it with the notion of organized social movements, but studying organized movements only captures a small part of the realities of social protest. Dissent often takes alternative forms, and can be studied from myriad angles. The articles in this issue offer different perspectives on social protest, examining the roles of small activist collectives, organized policing efforts, local private politics, digital communities, and revolutionary vanguards in instances of collective action and political behavior.

Open access

Occupy Gezi Parki

Eyewitness Accounts

Barbara Franchi

A lucky coincidence made the event ‘Occupy Gezi Parki: Eyewtiness Accounts’ possible: the return to Canterbury of Adem, student of Sociology, after two weeks of protests in Istanbul. Adem kindly agreed to give a personal account of his experience as a protester in Gezi Parki.

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Benjamin Abrams and Giovanni A. Travaglino

Social protest is not always a simple process. Social movements, activists, or political parties can attempt to change the status quo, but they do not often do so through a single, traceable process of contention. Instead, they encounter selective participation, community dynamics, dilemmas about how and where to spend their time, and interventions by governments and other elites that seriously impact their momentum. The articles in this issue assess these complicating phenomena, examining issues of system justification, local community responses to hate, the balancing of online and offline protest, and the role of government and media elites in circumventing the rise of protest movements.