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Social movements and contentious politics

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Monday 2.30pm – 5.20pm

Lecture venue

Course description

Social movements are now arounds us, having an impact on our everyday lives. The course will provide basic understanding of social movements and contentious politics in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China with a global perspective. Major debates on social movements and popular actions will be introduced, with a particular focus on class, gender, race and ethnicity issues. Current debates on the role of social media in shaping social movements and contentious politics will also be explored. Moving from macro to micro processes, the course will also critically examine how discourse, identity, mobilization, organization, emotion and agency construct various social movements in our societies. Students will be invited to provide participative observation in this course. Films and video teaching materials will be used.

This course is delivered in a 3 hour lecture format (with breaks).

Course learning outcomes

  • Understand the basic concepts of social movements and contentious politics.
  • Comprehend major debates on social movements and popular actions from different theoretical trainings.
  • Make sense of grass root movements in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China in a global context.
  • Understand the relation between collective identity and popular actions, emotion and social movements, and contentious politics and social change.


Classroom participation and activities20%
Short papers based on readings40%
Group project40%

Required reading

Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper, eds. The social movements reader: Cases and concepts. John Wiley & Sons, 2014. (Chapters)

Jobin-Leeds, Greg. When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World. The New Press, 2016. (Chapters)

Jasper, James M. Protest: A cultural introduction to social movements. John Wiley & Sons, 2014. (Chapter one)

Sidney Tarrow. Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics. 3d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2011. (Chapter one)

Sidney Tarrow. The New Transnational Activism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. (Chapter one)

Course co-ordinator and teachers