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Social Movements and Contentious Tactics


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.

  • Students will participate on a ‘first come first served’ basis, with a maximum number of participants of 30.

  • At least 8 students must enroll for the course to take place.


Groups such as the Pegida movement in Germany, the yellow vest movement in France or Extinction Rebellion have mobilized in recent years for different political goals. In addition to the different goals, these groups also use different protest tactics, from conventional to confrontational strategies. This course look into the emergence of (new) social movements, the dynamics of social movements, with a special focus on the question under what conditions social movements can radicalize. This course has two main goals:

First, the course gives an overview of the classical approaches in contentious politics and social movement research. We examine the main theoretical approaches in this field, including collective action, grievances, resource mobilization, framing approaches, and political opportunity structures. Next, we discuss theories about tactical decisions, state repression, and the success / failure of social movements.

The second goal of this course is to teach students how to write an analytical paper in which an intelligence assessment is being compiled with the objective of advising policy makers how to handle an emerging social movement.

Course objectives

After completing the course,
1. Students are able to identify and engage with the main theories explaining the mobilization and activities of social movements;
2. Students are able to analyse the dynamics of social movements regarding the use of particular protest tactics, interaction with state agents, and the success or failure of the social movements;
3. Students are able to identify and deal with practical and methodological problems related to the data generation process;
4. Students are able to compile an intelligence assessment in order to advise policy makers.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of seven three-hour seminar sessions. Students are expected to engage in an active way with the literature and conduct research during the seminar sessions.

Attendance is compulsory.

Course Load

Total study load 140 hours:

  • 21 Contact hours.

  • 119 Self-study hours: reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.

Assessment method

  • One mid-term paper related to the literature on social movements (40% of final grade)

  • A final paper in the form of an intelligence assessment (60% of final grade)

No compensation is possible. The written assingments must receive at least 5,5 each.


The corresponding Blackboard course will become available one week prior to the start of the course.

Reading list

A selection of articles, to be announced on Blackboard.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted there.


All communication should be directed to Dr. J. van Buuren