The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America
Protest is everywhere in American politics. Over the past decade, activists have staged dramatic demonstrations on such diverse issues as the war in Iraq, globalization, standardized testing, and abortion rights. Indeed, protest and social movements have become essential features of contemporary American life. The Politics of Protest offers both a historical overview and an analytical framework for understanding social movements and political protest in American politics. The book suggests that protest movements, clearly an integral part of our nation's history from the Boston Tea Party to the Civil Rights Movement, are hardly confined to the distant past. It argues that protest movements in America reflect and influence mainstream politics. In order to understand our political system-and our social and political world-we need to pay attention to protest.
The Politics of Protest opens with a short history of social movements in the United States, beginning with the development of the American Republic and outlining how the American constitutional design invites protest movements to offer continual challenges. It then discusses the social impulse to protest, considers the strategies and tactics of social movements, looks at the institutional response to protest, and finally examines the policy ramifications. Each chapter includes a brief narrative of a key movement that illustrates the topic covered in that chapter. Drawing students in and clearly demonstrating how and why the subject is of importance to them, the book addresses such topics as Dorothy Day's Catholic Workers' protest against nuclear fallout drills in the 1950s, the Greensboro civil rights sit-in in 1960, and the so-called "Battle in Seattle" anti-globalization rally. Providing a concise, yet lively analysis of social movements in America, The Politics of Protest is ideal for political science or sociology courses that consider social movements and political protest.
A Very Good Book
By NYC Prof - December 24, 2007
Meyer has written a clear, sensible, engaging book on a topic too often obscured by academic code. Meyer is good at showing what the connections are between institutional and non-institutional politics, and goes well beyond the simple assertion that these connections exist. Where others often lament these connections or use them to shed doubt on the actual accomplishments of social movements (i.e., "the system was adjusting anyway"), Meyer shows both that American political structures tend toward incremental change and that action outside of these structures sometimes brings more rapid and systemic change, but that this extra-institutional action is also limited by the durability of our constitutional system. Meyer takes policy change seriously, too, but unlike the change-would-have-happened-anyway crowd, he also calls our attention to the dynamics by which movements and authorities attempt to claim credit for change. Thus, in the end, however pessimistic Meyer can be about the... read more
Good introduction but a little background could help
By H. Freeland - January 31, 2008
This a good introductory text and I am using it as my text for an intro undergrad class. My only negative comment is that much of academics is a progression from previous theories. It would have helped if he had provided more background on previous theories and shown how his perspective is a progression from these earlier models. While his points are comprehensible without prior knowledge of the social movements literature, my novice students find it diffult to fully understand without at least a little background.
This book updates and adds to the classic "Social Movements of the Sixties and Seventies", showing how social movement theory has grown and changed-from an earlier emphasis on collective behavior, to ...