Tag Archives: diffusion

Revolutionary Fervor


A Protester carrying a sign in Puerta del Sol’s Square in Madrid in May 2011, a couple months after the Egyptian Revolution. The sign reads “Tahrir Square.”

When Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vender set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, he could not have imagined that his action would lead to a nationwide mass movement in his own country, described as the first revolution in the events known as the Arab Spring of 2011.  He could not have at all conceived that his action, followed by his country’s revolution, would become “contagious,” spreading to Tunisia’s North African neighbors Egypt and Libya and beyond. Despite how the events known as the Arab Spring and their complex outcomes have developed and that some have involved a certain degree of civil war as well as international intervention, most entailed large mass protests. In addition, the Arab spring revolutions began as a chain of revolts across several different countries. Each Arab spring revolution was distinct but was constituted, in part, by the regional reverberations of the Arab spring revolutions across national borders. Continue reading


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Moving On: The Anti-War Movement Ten Years Later

By Andrew Yeo

Millions of citizens around the world mobilized on February 13, 2003 to protest the impending U.S.-led invasion in Iraq.  It was arguably the largest anti-war protest in history.[i]   One month later, the United States and the coalition of the willing rolled into Iraq, initiating a war which would drag on for eight years.  As we now know, the Iraq invasion did not sustain the global anti-war effort as perhaps imagined by some of the earlier organizers.

Looking back, it is easy to dismiss the protests and broader anti-war movement (and by extension the peace movement[ii]) as ineffective and naïve.  It is also tempting for social movement scholars to respond by qualifying what defines movement “success,” and argue that anti-war mobilization, while failing to end (much less stop) the war, generated other intended or unintended social and political consequences. This includes raising public consciousness about the human effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; drawing support for center-left candidates or opposition parties; or building new transnational ties and networks. Continue reading

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Where is Wall Street? Let the Crowd Tell Us

Map of locations of sit-ins in southern US cities, from Kenneth Andrews and Michael Biggs' 2006 American Sociological Review article "The Dynamics of Protest Diffusion."

Recent efforts to add a geo-spatial dimension to studies of protest have given social movement scholars the chance to draw some really interesting conclusions. Dan Myers and Beth Caniglia found how close your protest needed to be to New York City to have a hope of appearing in the New York Times. Kenneth Andrews and Michael Biggs determined how sit-ins rapidly diffused from city to city in the south in 1960. And Robert Sampson, Doug McAdam, Heather MacIndoe, and Simon Weffer-Elizondo established what neighborhood characteristics really mattered in where collective action occurred over 30 years in Chicago. While these studies asked different questions and focused on different places, they had one major component in common: they hinged on the painstaking collection of data from a variety of sources to identify the location and characteristics of large numbers of protest events. Continue reading


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