From the French Revolution to the #BLM protests, social movements and revolutions are enormously consequential. But how do they arise, who brings them into being, and why do they fail or succeed? Sociologist Benjamin Abrams sheds light on the drivers behind large-scale spontaneous protests and offers a novel theory that could help predict movements to come.
The 2020 Black Lives Matter protests were a defining moment in American politics, bringing as many as 26 million people into the streets following the murder of George Floyd. Similar immense, spontaneous mass mobilizations have shaped societies throughout world history, such as the Arab Spring of 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and even the French Revolution of 1789. What these cases have in common is that people with no connection to organized movements mobilized themselves.
In his upcoming book The Rise of the Masses, sociologist Benjamin Abrams examines how these four momentous mass uprisings took place. Drawing on empirical research, in-depth interviews, and historical sources, he describes how and why spontaneous mass mobilizations arise, and builds a new theory of spontaneous protest: Affinity-Convergence Theory.
Dr. Benjamin Abrams is a lecturer (assistant professor) in Sociology at University College London. Alongside the study of mobilization, Abrams also works on revolutions, resistance and contentious politics broadly considered. The Rise of the Masses will be published by the University of Chicago Press in June 2023.
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