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
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Classic: Robnett, Belinda. 2000. How long? How long?: African-American women in the struggle for civil rights. Oxford University Press.
From the Arab Spring to the Muslim Ban: Diaspora Activists Oppose Authoritarianism at Home and Abroad
By Dana M. Moss
The Arab Spring and its early victories heralded new hope for liberal change in the Middle Eastern region. Six years later, its aftermath has wrought unfathomable tragedies. War in Yemen has produced the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe, leaving 19 million (69% of the population) in urgent need of aid and 10 million on the brink of starvation. Thousands have been killed in Libya’s ongoing civil war between government forces loyal to an autocratic general, local militias, and extremists. Syria has become a theater of horrors leaving half a million dead and 13 million in need of humanitarian aid. About five million Syrians have fled, and those who remain risk being bombarded from the sky, starved on the ground, and tortured to death in regime prisons. Continue reading
Three relevant pieces of research about social movements and the Arab Spring:
Mobilization Journal’s special issue on the Arab Spring:
Howard, Philip N., and Muzammil M. Hussain. 2013. “Democracy’s fourth wave?: digital media and the Arab Spring.” Oxford University Press.
Alimi, Eitan Y., and David S. Meyer. 2011. “Seasons of change: Arab Spring and political opportunities.” Swiss Political Science Review 17.4: 475-479.
Six years ago, after starting with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a wave of protests in the Arabian Middle East toppled several governments and gave voice to a new generation of activists. Mobilizing Ideas marks this anniversary with a dialogue entitled, “Movement Trajectories: The Arab Spring Six Years On.” We ask our contributors to consider the pathways of movements after the period of mass mobilization, specifically looking at the countries of the Arab Spring.
Many thanks to our fantastic group of contributors.
James M. Dorsey, Nanyang Technological University (essay)
Charles Kurzman, University of North Carolina (essay)
Anne Price, Helen Rizzo, Chelsea Marty, Katherine Meyer (essay)
Atef Said, University of Illinois-Chicago, (essay)
Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo
I was recently asked by a journalist in North Dakota to comment upon the ongoing protests at Standing Rock, and to predict how it all would end. Like a good social scientist, I hedged a lot, but like a naive one, I obliged his request. Perhaps luckily for me, my words were never printed. Two days after our interview, the Army Corps of Engineers declared that the Energy Transfer Partners Corporation would not be granted an easement, the news editor demanded a different version of the story, and my predictions (right or wrong, I may never tell!) remain in a newsman’s notebook.
But I have been turning over the journalist’s question wondering how soon will come the day when we can predict within a narrow credibility interval, the actions of police or protesters engaged in some contentious struggle.
The capacity to predict, of course, is the sine qua non of mature, policy-applicable scientific theory. But I don’t think many of us would say that we are quite there yet. We have many excellent small-N studies cataloguing mechanisms of contentious politics and repertoires of protest policing (too many to cite in a blogpost). And we have large-N studies giving us some understanding of general patterns or trends in protest activity distributed across various political regimes. But we haven’t brought granular, nuanced, rich, big, and comparable data to questions asking who does what to whom, when, and under what (often dynamic) circumstances. I predict that will change very soon.
The Dynamics of Collective Action (DCA) database represents the closest we have lately come to big, rich, comparable data on protest and the policing thereof. Analyzing 22 variables describing over 24,000 events spanning three decades in New York state, the DCA database has launched a number of articles and careers. By comparing across so many (stand-alone) events motivated by different claims and using a range of tactics, authors have advanced our knowledge of how protests unfold differently against different targets and how movements’ activities depend on their contextualization in SMO fields, markets, and broader national policy processes. (For a listing of all publications based upon the DCA database, click here.)
A few articles using DCA data have also attempted to explain police behavior during who have collected and reported findings from DCA explain, the dataset is somewhat limited in its utility for understanding protest policing. DCA only collects very impressionistic data about police activity: whether police were present or not and whether they engaged in violence or arrest. Thus Soule and Davenport (2009) counsel future researchers to “move away from [police] presence/absence formulations of repression and toward more theoretically and methodologically sensitive conceptualizations of police action.”
The authors suggest, too, that to better understand protest policing behavior – well enough, perhaps, to make public predictions about what police will do during some ongoing movement – we will also need to build models of protest policing that take into account police (and protester) activities at events occurring throughout a protest ‘campaign.’ DCA, however, provides no accounting of campaigns (defined as a series of thematically and operationally linked protest events), instead conceptualizing each event in its dataset as a one-off.
Finally, Soule and Davenport (2009) counsel researchers to “examine the effects of various exogenous factors, such as the overall structure of political opportunities on police use of force and/or violence and arrests.” Here, again, the DCA comes up short even as it provides arguably the best quantitative data available on protest and its policing.
There are a number of reasons, though, to predict a brighter future for protest policing studies. First, the small-N studies of protest policing – while they are fundamentally incapable of marshaling enough data for comparative analyses – have been discovering, elucidating, and confirming the importance of a number of “control performances” (my riff off of Tilly’s contentious performances) in the protest policing repertoire. We have a better idea than ever about what we should be looking for as we take the advice to move beyond “police absence/presence formulations” of protest policing. Second, since the DCA was compiled, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (of the Department of Justice) has released powerful survey results describing the capacities and cultures of police departments across the United States. These data, especially when combined with data on US city political opportunities (housed in census databases and on city government websites describing upcoming elections, government types, and the political bent of their populations) will allow us to understand the “various exogenous factors” affecting protest policing.
Third, the Occupy movement provides us with excellent comparative campaign data. Nearly 200 US cities and towns had an Occupy campaign. Moreover, each of these campaigns was motivated by similar claims, drew on a similar protest performance repertoire, and occurred at the same time. The comparative leverage afforded by such data could hardly be better if social movements scholars had planned and organized the Occupy movement for their own selfish research purposes! Fourth, and finally, our capacity to extract nuanced data about events from news reports – a necessary and painstaking aspect of almost all quantitative protest event analysis research – is improving rapidly. With citizen science (crowdsourcing) approaches, the clever use of natural language processing algorithms, and hybrids between the two, we will soon find that we can parse thousands of news accounts by hundreds of variables of interest. And instead of requiring a decade of effort, a data-gathering and processing project comparable in size/scope to DCA might only take a year or two.
Improved by these four factors, next generation social movements databases will support complex analyses explaining how interactions between police and protesters at multiple levels – within and across events – not only result from political opportunities and police capacities and culture, but also feed back into later interactions. We know, based on our qualitative experience, that an on-the-ground clash fueled by adrenaline can shift the mood and outcome of an entire protest event, an entire campaign, and even (sometimes) the course of history. And we know that police strategies, often based on contextual political opportunities, can increase or decrease the likelihood of on-the-ground clashes and other behaviors. Soon, finally, we will be able to house fine-grained data on all these behaviors and factors in a single place, linking all these levels of analysis through dynamic probabilistic models allowing us to measure the flow of causality through such complex systems.
With such complete, well-operationalized data, we will be able to identify sequences of interaction leading to violent escalations, negotiations, and other outcomes, and the contextual factors influencing them. And then, I predict, we will be able to respond confidently and competently when reporters call asking us to divine what will happen next.
How can I protect myself legally when I am active online?
Professor Bambauer mentions several resources that you can use to protect yourself online. We have compiled links to these sources below.
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)’s Surveillance Self-Defense offers overviews, tutorials, and briefings for how to keep your identity and your information safe online.
The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.
The Tails system is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to: use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship; all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network; leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly; use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.