Mobilization: Mobilizing Innovative Work, Researchers, and Publishing Venues of Contentious Activity

BY María Inclán

This year Mobilization turns 25 and we, scholars, students, and social movement activists, are celebrating counting on a publishing venue specialized on studying the mobilizing aspect of contentious politics through innovative theoretical approaches and empirical methodologies. Hence, it is a great honor for me to be invited to reflect on the importance of the journal for the discipline as well as my own scholarship. Besides the obvious benefits that the journal provides us, such like cutting-edge research focused exclusively on social movements, protest, and collective action, from the beginning Mobilization has been a journal that opens the publishing door to incoming social movement students, as well as to scholars and research outside of the developed and democratically stable world. I believe this is mostly due to the fact that the journal was founded and is still owned and operated by Hank Johnston, who has dedicated his role as a leading social movement scholar to bringing in and opening opportunities to researchers from the Global South. From the first issue forward, one can find at one article by a scholar or region of research outside of the industrial north. In the first number was Helena Flam’s article on Poland’s KOR, in the second issue were Manisha Desai’s and  T. Oommen’s respective articles on women and civil society mobilization in India, in the third was Arild Schou’s article on the Palestinian Intifada in the third issue, and so on. In my particular case, publishing at Mobilization my third research article back in 2009, not only helped me to build my academic confidence, but also made it the most fully and partially reprinted, and translated article I have ever produced.[1] Hence, publishing at Mobilization became a great opportunity for me to circulate my work.

At the same time, Mobilization set its grounds as a premier journal specialized on contentious politics by always centering its numbers around seminal pieces of the central scholars within the social movements’ literature. Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly presented us the map to the study of contentious politics in the first number of the journal. Mark Lichbach, Eric Selbin, and Charles Tilly debated the use of such contentious politics mapping strategy in a forum in the first issue of the second volume. The second number of the second volume opened with Mario Diani’s article on the role of social movement networks and their outcomes, while Carol Mueller discussed the media models of protest event data. In doing this, issue by issue the journal established the theoretical and methodological grounds and innovations in the study of mobilization activity. Hence, the journal fulfilled the double purpose of introducing new scholars and research to mainstream scholars and foundational theories, and methodologies.

As a premier journal dedicated exclusively to publishing cutting-edge research on social movements, protest, and collective action, Mobilization has unlocked opportunities to incoming experimental methods of study. In 2012, the journal dedicated the third issue of volume 17 to the presentation of the pioneering project of surveying protests lead by Bert Klandermans, Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, and Stefan Walgrave: the CCC Project (Caught in the Act of Protest: Contextualizing Contestation). The project introduced the use of surveys during protest events to better identify the motivations, attitudes, and political contexts that drive protestors out to the streets. The goal of the project has been to create a comparable database on protest participation across triggers across protest demonstrations across countries. As of today, the project has gathered over 15,000 observations of protest participants in more than 70 different major street demonstrations in over 14 countries. It generated a vast literature on contextualized protest participation by the initial members of the CCC research network. It also motivated others to join the team and expand the collection of data to Latin American countries. In 2011, Paul Almeida and myself contributed to the project by not only surveying protest participants but also non-participants in six major protest demonstrations in Mexico City between 2011 and 2013,[2] allowed Paul to conduct a protest survey of May Day demonstrations in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, and, in 2014, Sofia Donoso, Federico Rossi, and Nicolas Somma entered the network with protest surveys in Argentina and Chile from 2015 to 2017. Finally, it inspired still others, like Dana Fisher, Michael Heaney and Fabio Rojas to apply the methodology for their own research projects on protest movements in the US.

Thus, the journal has not only served as an unparalleled publishing venue of inventive research on social mobilization, but it has also functioned as a great mean to broadcast social movement research printed in other academic journals and presses, and connect social movement researchers across the globe. Because of this, is that I consider a great honor to contribute with this piece to Mobilizing Ideas and I thank Rory McVeigh, David Ortiz, and Grace Yukich, the editors of a blog hosted by the Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame for inviting me to commemorate the 25thanniversary of Mobilization.


[1] Inclán, María. 2009. “Sliding Doors of Opportunity: Zapatistas and their Cycle of Protest.” Mobilization14(1): 86-106 has been reprinted in Springer’s Handbook of Social Movements across Latin America, edited by Paul Almeida and Allen Cordero Ulate and translated as Inclán Oseguera, María de la Luz. 2011. “Oportunidades políticas como puertas corredizas: los zapatistas y su ciclo de protesta.” Estudios Sociológicos29(87): 795-831.

[2] Other articles based on my protest survey fieldwork in Mexico are: and


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