A World of Protests: The New Social Movements (in English)

ISA Seville Study Center

Course Description

  • Course Name

    A World of Protests: The New Social Movements (in English)

  • Host University

    ISA Seville Study Center

  • Location

    Seville, Spain

  • Area of Study

    International Relations

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Recommended prior knowledge: topics covered in this course require an intermediate knowledge of theories, key actors, policies and case studies pertaining to the fields of Political Science, Economics and International Relations. Prior to registering for this course, it is highly recommended that students have a detailed knowledge of these fields of study in order to fully comprehend course material, classroom discussions and examinations.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    USF Course Code: CPO 4930

    Prerequisite: none; taught in English.

    Audience: ISA Students

    Contact hours: 45 

    I. Course Description
    After taking this course, students should have acquired a basic theoretical knowledge of the common traits (related to economics, sociology, communication and politics) behind new social movements. Students will also have a better understanding of the national and cultural differences of social movements, combined with a practical understanding of how these movements function and develop. All of this placed in the historical context of 25 years of globalization, frequent and intense financial crises, increasing inequality within countries, a new global economic balance with new emerging economies, a rising global middle class, shaky democracies and a failing international governance system.
    Recommended prior knowledge: topics covered in this course require an intermediate knowledge of theories, key actors, policies and case studies pertaining to the fields of Political Science, Economics and International Relations. Prior to registering for this course, it is highly recommended that students have a detailed knowledge of these fields of study in order to fully comprehend course material, classroom discussions and examinations.

    II. Learning Oucomes:
    -    Knowing basic facts, history and concepts of globalization
    -    Understanding the role of the Internet in enabling a new wave of social movements since 2011. 
    -    Understanding the magnitude and drivers of income and wealth inequality and its varieties worldwide, plus other patterns of discrimination (sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, social class) and subjugation. 
    -    Understanding the institutional causes of state failure and political instability
    -    Being able to explain the nature of modern democracy and its relationship with social change
    -    Basic understanding of the Arab Spring, its evolution and consequences 
    -    Practical knowledge of the internal workings of social movements, from the experience of the 15-M movement in Spain
    -    Understanding why mass protests emerge, how they turn into consistent, long term social movements, and how they effect, or fail to effect, political change

    III. Course contents (order of content may be modified):
    The course will be a combination of: 1) sociological, political and economic theory -surveying the already varied literature on the subject- (22 hours of class sessions); 2) field work in Seville with activists, leaders and analysts of the 15-M Spanish movement (indignados); and 3) live Skype connections with activists, leaders and commentators from: Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, and New York. 

    Since the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that sparked a wave of protests that swept through the Arab world, social protests have degenerated into military coups (Egypt), civil wars (Syria), tribal chaos (Libya) or cosmetic institutional changes (Morocco and Jordan). Only Tunisia has seen a stable transition to democracy. We analyze how and why social protests have given way to such disparate results. Is Arab cultural exceptionalism about to end? Or does the turmoil after the Arab Spring reflect a civilizational shock with global modernity?

    Since the early 1990s globalization has changed our world. We examine the political, economic/financial and technological factors driving globalization. But globalization is not only global markets, but also a communications revolution, more intense cultural interaction and increasing flows of news, images and ideas. With it comes an incipient global civil society and increasing human mobility: emigration and a global professional elite. We are increasingly bound up in one world, but who governs it?

    The traditional communication system are changing fast into something which is both new and uncertain. People and corporations can now access a wider range of information, ideas and images from others, by means of “social media”, in a completely open and decentralized fashion. Classical rules no longer apply and the consequences go beyond the known. From a means of enhancing personal social life, to grassroots organization and political mobilization social network organization has empowered social movements like never before.

    Since the end of the Cold War the world has seen democracy spread from Eastern Europe to Latin America and further to East Asia. However, the wave of democratic change seems to have been reversed since the financial crisis (2008), with both military takeovers and deterioration in the quality of governance calling into question what was deemed an irreversible and universal trend spreading Western liberal democracy. 

    After the Arab Spring social protests spread through Europe (Spain), United States (Occupy Wall Street), Latin America (Mexico, Chile, Brasil), Turkey, Russia and India. Beyond the different political and cultural contexts, one common theme: the frustration of rising middle classes with increasing inequality and corruption plus a jammed political system.

    Since the onset of the financial crisis, protests have sprung all over the world demanding to change the economic and political systems. What is new about these movements is that people want to have a saying on these matters: they want changes of which they are a part. We analyze how techniques for organizing street protests give way to procedures for social participation and collective decision making -both through social networks and public square meetings/assemblies-.

    We draw theoretical conclusions from the diversity of social movements in the world: What are the common factors that spark social protests in the XXI century? Are we witnessing a social globalization? Is inequality a product of global markets and technology? Is it driven by institutional and political factors? What determines the differing political fates of social movements? How have successful social movements and activists translated street protest into institutional change and political power?

    IV. Course Material and Bibliography: 
    Course material will be compiled by the lecturer. Students are not required to purchase the list below that is provided as a reference. 

    •    “Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age”, Manuel Castells, Polity Press, 2012.
    •    “The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century” Samuel Huntington, University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
    •    “Capital in the XXIst Century”, Thomas Piketty, Harvard University Press, 2014
    •    “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty”, James Robinson and Daron Acemoglu, Crown Business, 2012. 
    •    “Logic of Collective Action”, by Mancur Olson, in Vincenzo Ruggiero and Nicola Montagna, Eds. “Social Movements: A Reader” (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 93-93.
    •    “Now Out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the East European Revolution”, Timur Kuran, “World Politics”, Vol 44, Nº 1 (Oct. 1993), pp. 7-48.
    •    “World Protests 2006 – 2013”, Isabel Ortiz, Sara Burke, Mohamed Berrada, Herán Cortés, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Working Paper September 2013.
    •    “A Middle Class Revolution”, Eric Goldstein, Foreign Policy.com January 18, 2011 http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/18/a_middle_class_revolution
    •    “The Praxis of the Egyptian Revolution”, Mona El-Ghobasy, “Middle East Report 258” (Spring 2011) http://www.merip.org/mer258/praxis-egyptian-revolution
    •    “Demystifying the Arab Spring”, Lisa Anderson, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011
    •    “A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History”, David D. Kirkpatrick and David E. Sanger, The New York Times, February 13, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/world/middleeast/14egypttunisia-protests.html
    •    “Syria’s Sons of No One,” Anthony Shadid, The New York Times, August 31, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/magazine/syrias-sons-of-no-one.html?pagewanted=all
    •    “The Frankenstein of Tahrir Square”, Steven A. Cook ForeignPolicy.com, December 19, 2011, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/12/19/the_frankenstein_of_tahrir_square
    •    “The Arab Counterrevolution”, Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, The New York Times, September 29, 2011, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/sep/29/arab-counterrevolution/?pagination=false
    •     “Why Occupy Wall Street is Not the Tea Party of the Left”, Sidney Tarrow,  Foreign Affairs, October 10, 2011, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136401/sidney-tarrow/why-occupy-wall-street-isnot-the-tea-party-of-the-left
    •    “The Protestor,” Kurt Anderson, Time, December 14, 2011, http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132,00.html 
    •    “Globalizing Occupy Wall Street: From Chile to Israel, Protests Erupt,” Lois Becket, ProPublica.com, October 25, 2011, http://www.propublica.org/article/putting-the-global-occupymovement-in-context/single
    •    “¡Indignaos!”, Stepehn Hessel, Ediciones Destino, Barcelona, 2011
    •    “La Primavera Árabe”, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 2011
    •    “The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions”,  Marwan Bishara, Nations Books, 2012.
    •    “Hablan los Indignados: Protestas y Materiales de Trabajo”, Editorial Popular, Madrid 2011.
    •    “Waking From Its Sleep”, “Special Report on the Arab World”, The Economist, http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14027698
    •    “Demographics of Arab Protests”, Ragui Assaad, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, CFR.org, February 14, 2011.
    •    “A Voice as Powerful as Countries: Can Al-Jazeera Topple Governments?”, Matthias Gebauer and Yassin Musharbash, Der Spiegel.
    •        “No Internet, No Revolution? A Review of Manuel Castells’ “Networks of Outrage and     
         Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age” by Nawroos Shibli 01/09/2014 (William 
               Coleman’s Blog)
    •            “The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy"
               Dani Rodrik  2011.
    •    “Same as It Ever Was: Why the Techno-Optimists Are Wrong. Martin Wolf (Foreign Affairs, July-August 2015).
    •    “Will Humans Go the Way of Horses? Labor in the Second Machine Age” Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (Foreign Affairs, July-August 2015).
    •    “The Zombie System: How Capitalism Has Gone Off the Rails”, Michael Sauga (23 Oct, 2014, Der Spiegel)
    •    “The Third Great Wave” (The Economist, Oct 4th 2014)
    •    “Challenging the Oligarchy”, Paul Krugman DECEMBER 17, 2015 ISSUE, Review of “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few” by Robert B. Reich (The New York Review of Books)
    •    “Inequality, Dignity and Freedom”, Paul Krugman (The New York Times, FEB. 13, 2014)
    •    “Why We’re in a New Gilded Age”, Paul Krugman MAY 8, 2014 ISSUE, Review of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, by Thomas Piketty (The New York Review of Books)
    V.I. How to succeed in this course
    To successfully complete this course, attendance is essential as enables the necessary participation. Both spontaneous and prepared interaction are categories used in the evaluation.
    Due to the variety of topics covered in this course, come prepared. Listening to lectures, watching videos and participating in class activities and discussions is much more effective than reading someone else’s notes or watching a video later. Remember that active and meaningful participation is taken into account as part of the evaluation. Reading prior to the class sessions is essential to keep track of the course due to all the material that will be covered and the pace. 
    Becoming an active learner is one of the best ways to finish successfully this course: come always prepared to class: use the syllabus to be aware about will be covered or due in class, do all assignments before class, review before the class and be organized. The professor might make controversial statements in the classroom to facilitate the analyses of the students. 

    VI. Grading scale
    Final grades will be calculated according to the following scale:

    Matrícula de Honor = 10
    Sobresaliente = 9 – 9,9
    Notable = 7 – 8,9 
    Aprobado = 5 – 6,9
    Suspenso = 0 – 4,9
    No presentado = Student attended class but did not complete the exams
    No asistencia = Student exceeded the maximum number of allowed absences

    Please find as a reference the following grading scale conversion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student’s home university or institution to determine the final grade equivalencies. 
    Matrícula de Honor = A+                                      
    Sobresaliente = A                                                    
    Notable = B                                                             
    Aprobado =C  
    Suspenso = F
    No presentado = Incomplete (attended classes but did not take the final exam)            
    No Asistencia = Incomplete (enrolled in the course but did not attend class)

    Grade dispute: 
    The deadline for claiming grades is 30 days from the receipt of the certificate at the university of origin.

    VII. Course policies

    VII.I. Attendance
    Class attendance is mandatory and is taken every class day and reflected in the course attendance sheet. 
    An 85% attendance rate is required for the successful completion of the course. Perfect attendance will be taken positively into account in the participation section. 
    If a student exceeds this limit, 1 point will be taken off of the final grade (Spanish grade). Reaching a 20% of unexcused absences means that the transcript for this subject will show “not attended course”. 
    Excused absences: Medical Certificates that will be considered only if issued by a physician (not notes from the family explaining the student’s absence). The certificates must include the exact dates for which a student should be excused for having missed classes. Courses cannot be audited, so attendance is possible only for students enrolled in a specific class. 
    Punctuality: Students are expected to arrive on time to class and to return directly to class after class breaks. Arriving 10 minutes late (or more) and/or early class departures are considered unexcused absences and will be taken into account as half an absence. 
    Attending class is not only the presence in the classroom. The professor will encourage active participation in the course and it will be taken into account as part of the evaluation.  

    Auditors: Courses cannot be taken as auditors, thus attendance is possible only for students enrolled in a specific class.

    VII.II. Conduct in class
    Students who actively participate in classroom activities and who maintain a professional and respectful attitude will be evaluated positively. Students must not eat or use laptops during the class (unless specifically authorized by the teacher).  

    VII.III. Late work 
    One half point will be taken off (from the learning activities grade) for homework that is submitted late repeatedly. Late assignments will be corrected but will not be graded. 
    Missing a class does not release the student from completing the homework assigned or studying the topics covered in class that day.

    VII.IV. Make-up Exams
    If a student cannot be present for an examination for a valid reason (see V.II.) and approved by the professor and academic direction, a make-up exam will be given.

    VII.V. Exam retention
    After exams are graded, the teacher will review the examination with the class and collect all exams. The exams will be retained for one semester following the current one, and then they will be destroyed.

    VII.VI. Academic Honesty
    Students are expected to act in accordance with their university standards of conduct concerning plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

    VII.VII. Special accommodations 
    Students with special needs who require reasonable accommodations, special assistance or specific aid in this course (either for properly making-up classes, taking exams, etc.) should direct their request to Academic Coordination during the first days of the course.

    Teaching staff is required to report any disclosures harassment or violence of any kind.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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