Å - CANCELLED - Advances in the Study of Social Movements

Course content

This course provides a sociological introduction to the study of protest and social movements. How can protesters, social movements, NGOs and journalists spread new ideas and critical knowledge about burning political and social issues to institutions, governments, and the broader public?

How do activists cooperate across countries and in coalitions involving migrants, refugees, or institutional labor unions, and socially disadvantaged groups? Reflecting pressing concerns and salient issues of the periods in which knowledge and democratic innovation is generated within activism and social movements this course provides students an overview of international research in the field over the past 50-60 years.

Our starting point is mapping the field of Social movement studies in relation to the Sociology of knowledge. We then analyze the challenges and conditions for organizing protest and building effective coalitions on issues such as climate change, workers’ rights, social justice, migration, gender/LGBT rights, human rights and others.

The lectures and classroom discussions will focus on the role of organizational dynamics of cooperation, decision-making, and the diffusion and translation of knowledge and protest strategies within and through social movement coalitions.

Case studies will focus on the interaction of movements and parties in the US over the past 50 years, the dynamics of student activism in the contemporary U.S., migration and refugee solidarity protests, right wing extremist and populist mobilizations, and questions of gender, and intersectionality. Students are expected to present tentative research agendas, get feedback, and present their interests/projects in light of what they've learned in the course.


MA Theory and Themes (MSc Curriculum 2015)


Course package (MSc 2015):

Knowledge, organisation and politics
Culture, Lifestyle and Everyday Life

Learning outcome


The course will provide the students with knowledge of

- the core sociological research literature within the thematic field of Social Movements



Students will have trained their ability to

- compare and contrast key theoretical perspectives that are central to the field of research on social movement organizations

- identify significant historical and contemporary developments in research on social movements.

- apply and critically discuss key theoretical concepts within the thematic field of transnational mobilization and organizing, particularly related to the challenge of organizational heterogeneity, inequality, and cultural diversity within transnational coalitions

- review and reflect on the interdisciplinary scientific literature on protest and social movements. 



Further, students should also be able to

- assess and discuss practical relevance of their analysis for key actors, issues, and problems within and across the organizational and thematic fields where social movements operate.


In carrying out the presentations, projects, and written exercises students demonstrate that they have acquired competencies that allow them to independently

- identify and analyze cases and settings where organizational dynamics and transnational politics shape or influence the functioning of social movement coalitions.

Lectures, class discussions, student presentations, exercises and written assignments based on the readings. The presentations include project work (either individually or in groups).

Students are expected to contribute actively to discussion of core theoretical-analytical tools as well as the more specific analytical examples and case studies. In their written assignments and in their final project presentations students are expected to identify their own analytical questions and demonstrate their capacity to critically assess and analyze empirical data based on the examples and case studies we discuss in class.

Textbooks and articles in the field taught.

It is beneficial but not required that students have taken previous courses in the fields of social change and social movements.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Course participation
Active participation
Active participation will consist of:
A written assignment and project presentations within the classroom
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Exercises
  • 50
  • Exam Preparation
  • 28
  • English
  • 206