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.
An Examination of European Protest Activity, 2008–2012
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.
The Case of the Greek Indiginant Movement
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.
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.
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.
Institutional distrust has become a pervasive element of global society in general and European society in particular. Concurrently, participation in institutions is also declining, raising concerns about the effectiveness of civil society. Distrust of institutions like the political, education, legal-judicial, and law enforcement systems is linked to declining participation in mainstream political behaviors like voting, but it is unclear how individuals’ trust of and participation in certain institutions affects social movement activity and participation in protest. Here, I use recent European protest movements to better understand the link between institutional distrust, institutional participation, and social protest. Using the 7th wave of the European Social Survey, I construct several multilevel mixed-effects logistic regressions predicting participation in four forms of protest: signing petitions, boycotting products, wearing protest badges, and participating in demonstrations. It turns out that, while institutional distrust is moderately and positively linked to certain forms of protest, those who partake in mainstream political institutions are far more likely to participate in all forms of protest.
The struggle to save the Beeliar Wetlands, an urban remnant bushland in Perth, Western Australia, demonstrates elements of both urban social and urban environmental movements. At the end of 2016, 30 years of objection to the continuation of the Roe Highway development (Roe 8) culminated in months of intense protest leading up to a state election and a cessation of work in 2017. During the long-running campaign, protestors fought to preserve high-conservation-value bushland that was contained in the planned road reserve. At the heart of this dispute were competing spatial uses. This article will analyze four protest actions from the dispute using Henri Lefebvre’s concept of the production of space, and will demonstrate that the practices of protest gave those fighting to preserve Roe 8 the agency to reinscribe meaning to the natural uses of the Beeliar Wetlands over and against the uses privileged by the state.
This article engages in a spatial analysis of the link between protest and voting during the Wende, East Germany’s revolution of 1989. Are the same places that protested more also the places that decided the revolution’s fate by supporting CDU’s ticket of quick reunification? The revolution is approached through the conceptual metaphor of Thermidor, a conservative backlash to the revolution’s initial radical impulse. Spatial methods are used to investigate the local-level relationships between protest and voting. The article finds a weak link between protest and voting, which suggests that something akin to Thermidor occurred in East Germany. While certain towns initiated the revolution with their protests, other localities stepped in at a later stage and finished the revolution by voting for reunification, the revolution’s main outcome. The article pays special attention to the divide between East Germany’s north (Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania) and south (Saxony and Thuringia).
Policing, International Summitry, and the G20 Experiment in Brisbane
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.
movimientos sociales, sociedad civil y ciudadanía
Isaías Barreñada Bajo
*Full article is in Spanish
English abstract: The popular demonstrations triggered by the so-called Arab Spring can be explained by a combination of the multiple reasons of political, social, cultural, and economic orders. But previous mobilizations become relevant as a precedent to the Arab Spring protests given their scope; in several countries in recent years, an unusual intensification of the protest was experienced. The massive character of the protests would not have been possible without the intervention of certain experienced actors that served as catalysts and facilitators of these dynamics. Regardless of their achievements and singularities, the 2011 demonstrations have to be regarded as part of a protest continuum, being the inheritors of previous resistance, and protest movements, as well as of preceding organizational experiences and constituting a turning point in collective action. This continuum goes on.
Spanish abstract: Las movilizaciones populares que desencadenaron las llamadas “primaveras árabes“ se explican por la combinación de múltiples razones de orden político, social, cultural y económico. Pero las dimensiones adquiridas por las protestas ponen de relieve cómo éstas tenían antecedentes; en varios países en los últimos años se vivió una intensificación inusitada de la contestación. El carácter masivo de las protestas no hubiera sido posible sin la intervención de determinados actores que contaban con experiencia y que lograron actuar como catalizadores y facilitadores de esta dinámica. Independientemente de sus logros y de sus singularidades nacionales, las manifestaciones del 2011 se inscribieron así en un continuum contestatario, siendo herederas de experiencias de resistencia, protesta y organización previas, y constituyeron un punto de inflexión en el proceso. Este continuum prosigue en las transiciones políticas en curso.
French abstract: Les mobilisations populaires déclenchées par les dénommés “printemps arabes“ s'expliquent par la combinaison de multiples raisons d'ordre politique, social, culturel et économique. Mais les dimensions atteintes par les protestations mettent en relief leurs antécédents; dans plusieurs pays, durant ces dernières années, a eu lieu une intensification inusitée de la contestation. Le caractère massif des protestations n'aurait été atteint sans l'intervention de certains acteurs qui comptaient avec de l'expérience y qui purent jouer un rôle de catalyseurs et de facilitateurs de ce e dynamique. Indépendamment de leurs réussites et de leurs singularités nationales, les manifestations de 2011 se sont ainsi inscrites dans un continuum contestataire, étant héritières d'expériences de résistance, de protestation et d'organisations antérieures, et elles constituèrent un moment d'inflexion dans le processus. Ce continuum se prolonge dans les transitions politiques en cour.