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Module Code: POU44391 (Topics in Political Science 4)

Module Name: Social Movements, Collective Action, and Contentious Politics

  • ECTS Weighting: 5
  • Semester/Term Taught: Semester 1
  • Contact Hours: TBC
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Eleonora la Spada

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should have a good grasp of the theoretical debates about - and the methods that have been used to – study social movements. Students will acquire the background theoretical knowledge of different forms of collective actions and social movements. They should also be able to assess competing theories and employ this knowledge in developing their own research.


Module Learning Aims

  • To equip students with the theoretical knowledge of different forms of collective actions and social movements
  • To equip students with the research/analytical skills needed to assess competing theories and employ this knowledge in developing their own research

Module Content

The course focuses on developing a framework for constructing and rethinking factors (economic, political, cultural) that have led to the emergence, development, and maintenance of certain forms of collective behavior. Social movements, protests, revolutions, contentious politics: despite the differing labels, these phenomena are interrelated and often explored with an interdisciplinary perspective. This course explores the nature of these forms of political behavior. We will look at the major theories that sociologists and political scientists have used to explain mobilization and outcomes of social movements. In this module we will address a variety of key topics and questions: How do we explain why people participate in protest or other types of collective actions? What factors determine the tactics people use to bring up change? What explains social movements’ success or failure? What are government responses to domestic dissent? In examining these questions, we will read theoretical works, quantitative studies comparing many different social movements, and case studies of particular social movements and revolutions.

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Recommended reading list (TBC)

Detailed readings will be given in the module handout. Key readings:


Assessment Details

  • Seminar participation (20%)
  • Mid-term essay (30%)
  • Final Essay (50%)

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