Protestors and Their Targets

Edited by James M. Jasper and Brayden G King
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1912-5
Publication: Feb 20

HC: $99.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1911-8
Publication: Feb 20

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1913-2
Publication: Feb 20

232 pages
6 x 9
3 tables, 3 line drawings

Examining the dynamics when protestors and their targets interact

Read an excerpt from the Introduction (pdf).


The strategic interactions between protestors and their targets shape the world around us in profound ways. The editors and contributors to Protestors and Their Targets—all leading scholars in the study of social movements—look at why movements do what they do and why their interactions with other societal actors turn out as they do. They recognize that targets are not stationary but react to the movement and require the movement to react back.

This edited collection analyzes how social movements select their targets, movement-target interactions, and the outcomes of those interactions. Case studies examine school closures in Sweden, the U.S. labor movement, Bolivian water and Mexican corn, and other global issues to show the strategic thinking, shifting objectives, and various degrees of success in the actions and nature of these protest movements.

Protestors and Their Targets seeks to develop a set of tools for the further development of the field’s future work on this underexplored set of interactions.

Contributors: Edwin Amenta, Kenneth T. Andrews, Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, Sarah Gaby, Pablo Gastón, Frances Fox Piven, Gay W. Seidman, Nicole Shortt, Erica Simmons, Katrin Uba, Kim Voss, and the editors


“The editors provide an instructive historical account of how social movement theory developed a blind spot to targets in the first place, as well as promising steps to address it in recent work on fields, players, and arenas. Several of the entries provide fresh insight on cases outside of the familiar U.S. context…. (T)here is much to glean for scholars of different stripes. This book is a must-have for social movement researchers.”

"This theoretically rich collection addresses protesters and their often overlooked targets, with contributions from various authors ranging from giants in the field to newer scholars…. (T)he authors provide a mix of illustrative issues from school closures to labor movements across many different political and social contexts, movements, and targets, to remind readers that they shift and change, requiring more study…. The creative and original thinking on display in this fascinating work is complemented by a solid bibliography…. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”

With contributions by leading scholars, Protestors and Their Targets proves the importance of an interactive approach in order to understand protest by locating social movements within broad arenas of relations.
Donatella della Porta, Director of the Center for Social Movements Studies, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence

“Protestors and Their Targets brings together an extraordinary group of scholars, each offering a unique perspective on complex interactions between activists pushing for change and those on the receiving end of protestors’ demands. The focus on interactional processes redirects scholars’ attention to ‘where the action is,’ while situating these dynamics within broader structures of power relations. This book conveys the complexity, importance, and the excitement involved in peoples’ efforts to act together to make a better world.
Rory McVeigh, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Sociology, University of Notre Dame and co-author of The Politics of Losing: Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment

The editors’ introduction offers a robust foundation not just for the book itself but for what they argue is a new realm of social movement theorizing. They lay out the stakes of studying the interactive contexts that shape movements and the institutions and actors these movements touch…. Protestors and Their Targets will be of interest and utility to social scientists wishing to study movements with greater dynamism and specificity in order to best make sense of the levers of social change in a given place and time."
Contemporary Sociology

Table of Contents

Preface | James M. Jasper

Introduction: The Dance of Interaction | James M. Jasper and Brayden G King

Part I: How Social Movements Select Targets
1. Disruptive Movements and the Play of Politics | Frances Fox Piven
2. Why Did They Keep Quiet? Missing Protests against School Closures in Sweden | Katrin Uba

Part II: Movement-Target Interactions
3. Protests, Precariousness, and Democracy: Cities and “Service Delivery” in the Global South | Gay Seidman
4. Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up to Me: Targets, Repertoires, and Democracy in the U.S. Labor Movement | Kim Voss and Pablo Gastón
5. Protest Episodes: Shifting Actors and Targets in Local Movements | Kenneth T. Andrews and Sarah Gaby

Part III: Outcomes of Interactions
6. How Targets Influence the Influence of Movements: An Institutional Mediation Approach | E dwin Amenta and Nicole Shortt
7. Bolivian Water, Mexican Corn: State Response to Subsistence Protests | Erica S. Simmons
8. Missing Targets: Contemporary Slaveholder Responses to Human Rights Advocacy | Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick


About the Author(s)

James M. Jasper writes about politics and culture. His recent books include Public Characters: The Politics of Reputation and Blame, The Emotions of Protest and The Identity Dilemma: Social Movements and Collective Identity (Temple). He is affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Brayden G King is the Max McGraw Chair of Management and the Environment at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is a sociologist whose research examines the role of social movements in organizational, political, and social change.