Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities

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Giugni, Marco ; Bosi, Lorenzo ; Uba, Katrin (2013)

Scholarship has left the study of the consequences of social movements in the background for a long time, focusing instead on movement emergence, characteristics, and dynamics. Since the mid-1970s, however, scholars have paid an increasing interest in how social movements and protest activities may produce change at various levels. The existing literature can be ordered according to the kind of consequence addressed. In this regard, one can roughly distinguish between political, biographical, and cultural outcomes. Political consequences are those effects of movement activities that alter in some way the movements’ political environment. Biographical consequences are effects on the life course of individuals who have participated in movement activities, effects that are at least in part due to involvement in those activities. Although their contours are less easily defined, cultural outcomes can be seen as the impact that social movements may have in altering their broader cultural environment. The bulk of the existing works have dealt with policy outcomes, which can be considered as a subcategory of political outcomes. Biographical outcomes are less numerous, but they form a substantial and quite coherent body of literature. Cultural outcomes have been studied much less often. More recently, scholars have started to investigate the effects that social movements and protest activities may have on other aspects of society, such as the economy and market-related institutions, or on other movements. In addition, one should also consider the distinction between internal and external outcomes as well as that between intended and unintended consequences. Both distinctions partly cross-cut the typology of political, biographical, and cultural outcomes, although one might think of political outcomes as mostly external and more intended, biographical outcomes as mostly internal and unintended, and cultural outcomes as both internal and external and mostly unintended.
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