Call for Papers: Special Issue
NEW GLOBAL REPERTOIRES
Understanding the Contemporary Wave of Mass Protest and Rebellion
Papers due December 1, 2013, projected publication, January 2015
Graeme Hayes, Gemma Edwards, Kevin Gillan
John Krinsky, Denise Milstein
Editors, Social Movement Studies
Over the last decade, a growing wave of protest has taken hold across the world. The so-called Washington Consensus around neoliberal models of development has frayed. Over the past generation, we have witnessed continued popular ferment and movements, oftentimes connected to one another in a variety of ways. We may consider the 1994 Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico, or the ‘Battle of Seattle’ anti-WTO demonstrations in 1999 as starting points. Or we may go as far back as the late 1980s, the shredding of the Iron Curtain and the revolt in Tiananmen Square. This period has seen deepening inequality within and across societies, prompted by the ‘roll-back’ of social-democratic states and the ‘roll-out’ of new, privatized forms of governance. It also has coincided with—or, perhaps, prompted—increasingly repressive and militarized strategies of policing and surveillance against protesters, particularly noticeable in liberal democracies; and, most recently, waves of democratisation struggles across north Africa and western Asia in particular.
A key question of this cycle of contention concerns its relationship to the development of new forms of protest. Action repertoires – the ‘ways that people act together in pursuit of shared interests’ (Tilly) and ‘public performances with emotional and cultural content’ (Tarrow) – are central to the way we perceive, understand and analyse the emergence of protest, and particularly the way we map the relationships between macro-level changes in the social structure and micro-level decisions about action taken by social movement actors faced with new and evolving political situations.
In 2012, we ran a special issue on Occupy protests around the world. In it, and since then, in a wide variety of venues, analysts have drawn a good deal of attention to several purportedly new features in the post-2010 part of this protest wave. These include more ‘horizontal’ forms of organization, the development and use of new electronic information and communications technologies, the tactic of occupation, the uneven but present anti-organizational sentiment, and shifting relations to the state and parties, among others.
In this special issue, we invite research on the global wave of protest since 2010 that considers critically the effects of new clusters of tactics and new conditions of communication on the overall form of protest. What are the repertoires of action that characterise contemporary protest? Are we witnessing the birth of a new repertoire of contention? If so, how do we understand the processes of, and reasons for, repertoire shift? If not, how do we understand the apparent novelty of the last years of protest activity in light of broader continuities with the past? What are the politics of this phase of protest? Is what we are seeing a protest against neoliberalism or its individualism and unaccountability? If we are seeing a new repertoire in formation, how do we understand its diffusion and particular manifestations, even as we identify central elements that unify it? Are the tools that we have at our disposal – modularity, moments of madness, tastes in tactics, strategic interaction – still adequate for explaining repertoire innovation and diffusion, and the tactical choices that social movement actors make?
We invite concise, focused profiles of movements, of no more than 3,500 words, rooted in empirical research, investigating these and closely related questions.