Cancelled Political mobilization, democracy, and civic engagement

Course content

Political mobilization is everywhere. It reaches from people’s civic engagement in street protest to volunteering in civil society groups to professional media campaigns by non-governmental organizations and political parties. Social movements are groups, networks, and organizations of people who engage in collective action in order to reach social change or resist it. Today’s modern democracies are shaped by the struggles of the labor movement, and by social movements for women’s, gay and lesbian rights, by indigenous groups, environmentalists, peace activists and migrants’ rights activists. In recent years, new pro-democracy movements have emerged, both in authoritarian regimes and in liberal democracies, some of them with significant influence on societal developments. They include the Global Justice Movement, the Arab Spring, the Indignados movement and Occupy, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Climate Justice Movement and the Pro-Democracy movement in Hong Kong. We have also seen the emergence of new nationalist and religious movements with a far-right wing and neo-conservative political agenda such as the Tea Party, Pegida, or the Nordic Resistance Movement.

This course uses an interdisciplinary perspective that connects the literatures on political mobilization and civic engagement with research on democracy in social movements, resistance and democratization. We will discuss empirical case studies based on non-western, feminist, and geographically diverse approaches. In theoretical terms, we will explore questions of organizational democracy, diversity, and solidarity in the context of informally operating volunteer groups, professionalized ‘movement parties’ and NGOs, protest networks and grassroots democratic processes.


Elective course


Course packages

Welfare, inequality and mobility 

Knowledge, organisation and policy 

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 the course, and
  • familiarity with the recent literature on political mobilization, engagement and democracy in social movements, reaching from pro-democracy movements to studies of civic engagement, volunteer—recipient relationships. 



Students will have trained their ability to

  • compare and contrast key theoretical perspectives that are central to the thematic field of research within the course
  • identify significant historical and contemporary developments in research on mobilization, engagement and democracy and social movements.
  • apply and critically discuss key theoretical concepts within the thematic field of the course
  • review and reflect on the interdisciplinary scientific literature of the course acquiring insights into a number of different disciplines and their conceptualization of the themes we discuss as well as their state of the art. 



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 addressed by the course.



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

  • identify and analyse empirical cases and settings for research on the themes of the course.

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, including the final take home essay, students are expected to identify their own analytical questions and demonstrate their capacity to critically assess and analyse empirical data based on the examples and case studies we discuss in class. Students should also expect to review literature and assess empirical data besides the course texts. Aspects of conducting literature reviews within the relevant field of research will be taught and trained.

Readings include peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, NGO and civil society groups’ publications, literary narratives and digital media storytelling, newspaper articles and videos. Students are required to read approximately 1000 pages. Students are also expected to choose supplementary reading materials for their presentations, projects, and written assignments (approximately 300 pages).

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 118
  • Exam
  • 60
  • English
  • 206