Do other scholars agree with Tilly and Tarrow’s analysis that the Arab Revolutions (with the exception of Tunisia) do not constitute social movements?

  • 3,000 words addressing one of the questions in the handbook.
  • OR create your own question and get it approved by me over email!
  • All questions assume that you will review, discuss and evaluate the key arguments of the relevant literature.
  • The reading list in the handbook is a starting point – look beyond (you’re in Year 3!)
  • Read across the sessions not just around the case study you are addressing.
  • Don’t just describe and summarise!
  • Argue! Take a position and make a case!


  • Assessment advice
  • Don’t neglect the theory weeks!
  • If you are doing a theory question that’s obvious.
  • If you’re addressing a case study you need to answer at least in part to what extent it qualifies as a social movement or not!
  • The context – i.e. why people are mobilizing for change – neoliberalism, sexism, racism, state brutality, environmental degredation – is the backdrop NOT the focus!
  • Success or failure to implement one’s aims and objectives is not the measure of a social movement either!
  • Re-read the della Porta reading from week 2 as a guide to the sort of questions you should be asking of your case studies.

social movement

  • Social Movements involve collective action around contentious politics – a group of actors mobilizing to make claims on another group or institution’s interests
  • Tilly and Tarrow (2015) define Social Movements as ‘sustained campaign[s] of claim making using repeated performance that advertise the claim, based on organizations, networks, traditions, and solidarities that sustain these activities’ p. 11
  • They argue that it is important to distinguish between Social Movements and social movement bases (the social background, organisational resources, cultural frameworks of contention and collective action)
  • Interestingly they see Occupy as a Social Movement but not the Arab Revolutions (with the exception of Tunisia – clear aims and objectives around constitutional change)
  • social movement components
  • 1.Sustained campaigns of claim making – e.g. “Equal rights for women’; ‘We are the 99%’; ‘Black Lives Matter’2.An array of public performances e.g. marches, rallies, demonstrations, the formation of specialised associations, public meetings, public statements, petitions, letter writing, lobbying

    3.Repeated public displays of unity and solidarity – wearing colours or badges, marching in disciplined ranks, displaying signs, chanting slogans, picketing public buildings.

    4.Draw on their social movement bases, e.g. organisations, networks, traditions, and solidarities.

Old’ versus ‘New’ Social Movements

  • Old Social Movements – contention over political structures – right to vote, the formation of workers’ parties
  • New Social Movements – contention over social structures, emphasis on identity, (dis)engagement from state/party politics.
  • It is OK to argue that one of the case studies we have covered does not meet the criteria for a social movement
  • For example, the English Riots are not generally considered social movements.
  • Scholars even disagree about the extent to which the series of events constitute ‘political action’.
  • Do other scholars agree with Tilly and Tarrow’s analysis that the Arab Revolutions (with the exception of Tunisia) do not constitute social movements?

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