Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 1998

Comparative Perspectives on Political Protest and Collective Mobilization

Main Discipline: Political Science
Lecturer: Professor Herbert Kitchelt
Institution: Duke University, Durham, UK
Dates: 10. - 14. August

Social movements have repeatedly acted as force for social and political change. Important examples are agrarian movements without which the Great Revolutions of modern times are hard to understand and labour movements that critically shaped the emergence of Western democracy and political economy. More recently, the American civil rights movement served as a precursor to a wave of social movements that have reverberated through advanced industrial democracies, including ecology, feminist, peace, and multi-cultural movements, but also new racist and xenophobic movements. Finally, in a number of instances political protest movements precipitated or defended the dramatic break with communist rule in Eastern Europe.

Democratic polities do not limit the process of interest intermediation to elections and political parties, but involve at least two other critical ingredients: interest groups and social movements. This course focuses on the conditions under which social movements and collective political protest become crucial elements of the political process, the forms in which such movements articulate their demands, and the conditions under which they subside. Throughout the course, participants will discuss different theoretical perspectives that attempt to account for various aspects of social movement mobilization. At the same time, course materials apply these perspectives to explain the incidence and distribution of social movements in a variety of historical settings, but primarily advanced industrial democracies.

Basic Readings

The lecturer
Herbert Kitschelt is Professor of Political Science at Duke University and Professor of Comparative Politics at Humboldt University in Berlin. He is the author of The Logic of Party Formation (1989), Beyond the European Left (co-authored with Staf Hellemans, 1990), The Transformation of European Social Democracy (1994) and The Radical Right in Western Europe (1995).