Contentious performances: The case of street demonstrations

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Street demonstrations are among the most frequently performed forms of collective action. Tilly has argued that such contentious performances obey the rules of strong repertoires. Participants in contentious performances are enacting available scripts within which they innovate, but mostly in small ways. As a consequence, street demonstrations are the same and different every time they occur. We present findings from a comparative study of the demonstrations at the 15 of February 2003 against the war in Iraq in eight different countries. We furthermore present a theoretical model to account for the similarities, variations and changes. Contextual variation is conceptualized in terms of the demand and supply-side of protest and mobilization as the dynamic that brings
demand and supply together. Instrumental, identity, and ideological motivation and emotions are proposed as the dynamics of participation. To be tested, such a theory requires comparative research; therefore we wholeheartedly second Tilly’s call for more comparative research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA propósito de Tilly: Conflicto, Poder y Acción Colectiva
EditorsM.J. Funes
Place of PublicationMadrid
PublisherCentro de Investigaciones Sociológicas
Number of pages44
ISBN (Print)9788474765601
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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