Since the election of Donald Trump, protests have become increasingly commonplace in the United States, both in the nation’s capital and in towns and cities across the country. This recent wave of mass mobilization has led to growing considerations about how the new political climate might be changing civic engagement, particularly for young people. In June, Phase 1 of the 2017 Millennial Impact Report1 was released. The findings are based on interviews and focus groups with 16 millennials who previously downloaded the report; selecting for youth likely to be engaged. The press release for the report read “Will Millennials Turn Your Cause Into a Movement?” This is a complicated and potentially unanswerable question, but one whose answer could greatly impact movement scholarship. While the report cannot answer the long-standing question of how extensively youth drive social movements, it does offer some insights that are useful and potentially challenging to movement theory. Continue reading
Category Archives: Daily Disruption
“Will Millennials Turn Your Cause Into a Movement?”: Results from The Millennial Impact Report on How Millennials Shape Movement Success
This year saw numerous episodes of mobilization by immigrants and non-immigrants alike. In Sweden, protesters mobilized against police in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood of Stockholm. Protesters in Cologne, Germany organized against the anti-immigration party, the AfD. London protesters held an event at the U.S. embassy in London against Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban.” And, protesters in the U.S. mobilized against Trump and his administration’s views and positions on immigration with “A Day Without Immigrants.” Continue reading
Even during times of ‘normalcy’, or non-protest cycles, African descendants’ structural realities are constrained and shaped by oppressive targeting due to pervasive, institutionalized racism and capitalist exploitation. Repression against black people’s resistance activities historically has been especially heightened and involving a considerable amount of violence and public spectacle. For example, during enslavement those who escaped or rebelled were publicly whipped, beheaded in town squares, and subject to medieval torture devices. Prior to the Haitian Revolution, the most successful enslaved people’s rebellion, the French ‘breaking wheel’ was used to disembowel known maroon leaders. Co-conspirators in Denmark Vesey’s 1822 plot in South Carolina were publicly hanged; and members of the 1811 German Coast uprising in Louisiana were beheaded and had their heads put on spikes dotted along a major river. In each case, these measures were used to deter other rebels from taking their freedom into their own hands by standing up to societies that were founded on the assumption and structuration of black inferiority and subjugation. Continue reading
Professor Kathleen Blee is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is author of four books and recipient of numerous awards for her research and teaching. Much of her research focuses on right-wing social movements, specifically gender in organized racism.
Pundits and scholars alike have pointed to what appears to be increasing visibility of far right figures and ideas in mainstream media and popular culture. Below is an edited transcript of an interview I conducted with Blee in December about what her research can tell us about the results of the November election, how organized racism is changing in the 21st century, and what this means for social movement scholars going forward. Continue reading
Bullfrog Films has released a new educational documentary film, titled The Activists, which may be of interest to many of the readers of Mobilizing Ideas. Michael T. Heaney, author of Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11 (Cambridge 2015), is among the producers of the project, along with Melody Shemtov and Marco Roldán. The film is priced for purchase by libraries. Discounts are available for community groups or to rent the film. Heaney is available to Skype to your classroom or community group if you show the film. More information is available here: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/acts.html
Activists and activism have long been a part of the struggle for peace and justice in American politics and society. Activists have fought battles for civil rights, voter enfranchisement, collective bargaining, and an end to wars. While these struggles have sometimes yielded significant victories, and at other times resulted in disappointing defeats, activism has always been driven by ordinary people who give freely of their time and resources to try to bring about their visions for a new world. However, activists – as well how they fit into the political process – are often overlooked or misunderstood by their fellow citizens. Continue reading
The social movements field of scholarship no longer holds strain and breakdown theories in high regard when attempting to understand and explain mobilization emergence. However, as micromobilization theorist Aldon Morris explained in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, collective action and social movement consciousness must be located within the systems of domination that oppress actors in a myriad of ways. It might be possible then to think of crises of capitalism and heightened periods of economic exploitation as an underlying factor that inflames simmering racial tensions and popular protests over scarce resources. Continue reading
Are protests effective? This straightforward question interests both scholars and lay observers of protest. Whereas scholars most frequently answer the question with a nuanced ‘it depends’ and start narrating about contingencies; citizens and especially journalists most often simply want to hear impressive stories. Not the historical cases everybody is familiar with, but preferably more recent ones. Tales of contemporary struggles that truly show the potency of protest.
In the last few months, several examples of protest and success covered in international media caught my attention. These protests were noteworthy because, contrary to what much scholarly work suggests—that is, that protest is especially effective in the long run—these actions succeeded extremely quickly, in a matter of days. Their success seemed to be as sudden as their emergence. Continue reading