How Social Movements (Sometimes) Matter
How Social Movements (Sometimes) Matter

People protest to try to change the world, because they think they can help change the world, and <i>sometimes</i> they do. But not by themselves, and generally not just how and when they want.

This incisive book explains how groups of ordinary individuals can affect the world, what makes it possible when it works, and why it sometimes doesn't go to plan. Digging into previous scholarship on social movements, David S. Meyer looks at the origins of social movements, how they contrast with revolutionary campaigns, and assesses the periodic influence of activists on politics, policy, culture, and the way people live their lives. He concludes by stressing the narratives about political change that activists construct and the power that lies in these stories.

With sharp insight and a wealth of intriguing cases, this book offers a fuller understanding of the politics and potential payoffs of protest politics.​

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  • July 2021
  • 224 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9780745696843
  • Paperback $22.95
  • 9780745696850
  • Open eBook $18.00
  • 9780745696881
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Why Movements Emerge and How They Work
Chapter 2.  Protest, Revolution, and Regime Change
Chapter 3.  Protest and Policy
Chapter 4.  Protest, Organizations, and Institutionalization
Chapter 5. Protest Movements, Culture, and Participants
Chapter 6. Claiming Credit                                       

About the Author
David S. Meyer is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine
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“With characteristic eloquence and humor, realism and optimism, David Meyer has given us a new book about the success (sometimes) of social movements, both in America and abroad. Readers will appreciate Meyer’s talent for synthesis, presenting complex arguments with clarity, and unearthing the deeper meanings behind familiar tropes. In a world that has become ever more protest-prone, Meyer’s book will take its place alongside classics like Tilly’s From Mobilization to Revolution and Gamson’s Strategy of Social Protest.”
Sidney Tarrow, author of Power in Movement

“David Meyer draws on expertise accumulated through a career studying and analyzing social movements to take the reader through the lifecycle of a social movement to understand how social movements sometimes lead to protest in the streets, revolution, political change, and all sorts of social and cultural outcomes.”
Dana R. Fisher, University of Maryland

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