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.
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.
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.
Police Violence and Anti-Fracking Protests
Will Jackson, Helen Monk and Joanna Gilmore
This article considers the policing of protests against “fracking” at Barton Moss, Salford, Greater Manchester between November 2013 and April 2014. The article seeks to make sense of the policing response to the protest camp established at the Barton Moss site and to consider what the policing of anti-fracking protests reveals about state responses to resistance in the current era. The article begins by sketching out the background to fracking in the UK and to the specific protest at Barton Moss. It then provides some detail about the nature of policing experienced at the camp during its five-month operation before considering how the policing of anti-fracking protests—and protest policing more generally—need to be considered in relation to the general function of police. To do this we draw upon the concept of pacification to consider both the destructive and productive effects of the exercise of police power and suggest that this concept, and the reorientation of critical policing studies that it demands, are essential for understanding police and state violence in contemporary liberal democracies.
The 2013 Anti-Government Protests in Istanbul, Turkey
Colin W. Leach, Ayşe Betül Çelik, Rezarta Bilali, Atilla Cidam and Andrew L. Stewart
By happenstance, we found ourselves in Istanbul, Turkey in early June 2013 only days after a mass anti-government protest developed in and around Gezi Park. In addition to informal discussions and interviews with academics and others, we visited the protest site and traveled throughout Istanbul to directly experience the atmosphere and events. We also conducted two studies of Turks’ participation in, and views of, the protests. This paper recounts the events in Istanbul that summer and reviews our own, and other, social science research on the protests and the protestors. We focus on who the protestors were and why they protested, as opposed to the less engaged actions of visiting the protests or following them in the media.
Performative Protest in the Scared City of Damascus
Syrian activists adopted the flying demonstration protest form in 2011 during the Arab Spring. A flying demonstration occurs for a few minutes, and then the demonstrators run away. Protestors mainly chose this form to avoid deadly confrontations with the regime’s secret police. This article examines how flying demonstrations challenged the Syrian state’s media allegations that no demonstrations were taking place. Action, spectatorship, aftermath, and catharsis were key concepts from the theater and performance fields that allowed Syrian activists to intensify the demonstrations and achieve certainty, making flying demonstrations a consistent phenomenon in the capital, Damascus. I analyze the flying demonstrations theories brought from Richard Schechner’s performance theory and Augusto Boal’s invisible theater. Although demonstrators were not considering theater during their protests, I conclude that flying demonstrations’ theatrical characteristics were essential to making this phenomenon visually compelling, encouraging more participation, and, to some extent, guaranteeing safety during deadly Syrian events.
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.
Results from a Survey Experiment about Tuition Fees
Emma A. Bäck, Hanna Bäck and Gema Garcia-Albacete
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.
The 2013 Babylution protests and desire for political transformation in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina
In June 2013, a breakdown in the routine functioning of state bureaucracy sparked the largest and up to that point most significant wave of protests in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, named the Bosnian Babylution. The protest centered on the plight of newborn babies who, because of this particular administrative problem, could no longer be issued key documents, even to travel outside the country for life-saving medical care. These events exposed the profound nature of the representational crisis gripping this postwar, postsocialist, and postintervention state that has emerged at the intersection of ethnic hyper-representation and the lived experience of the collapse of biopolitical care. Yet, as this analysis shows, this crisis has also helped unleash new forms of political desire for revolutionary rupture and reconstitution of the postwar political.