Handbook of Political Citizenship and Social Movements
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Handbook of Political Citizenship and Social Movements

Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden

This Handbook uniquely collates the results of several decades of academic research in these two important fields. The expert contributions successively address the different forms of political citizenship and current approaches and recent developments in social movement studies. Salient social movements in recent history are explored in depth, covering the environmental, women’s, international human rights, urban, Tea Party, and animal rights movements. Social movements and political citizenship in the ‘global South’: China, India, Africa, and the Arab World, are discussed, presenting a novel empirical insight into these fields of study.
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Chapter 12: Citizenship, political opportunities and social movements

David S. Meyer and Erin Evans


It’s barely a stretch to observe that social movements are all about citizenship. Movements struggle to extend citizenship to new actors (e.g., women, ethnic minorities), or limit such access; to define the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship (e.g., suffrage, taxation, access to education or health care); and to find additional ways to exercise leverage on political decisions (e.g., stop or start war or pollution). More than that, the form of political action is defined by the rules and routines of citizenship. As Marshall’s (1950) classic essay explained, the struggles of citizenship, including the very terms of citizenship, have been the subject of political contention, beginning, in his stylized scheme, with civil rights, that is, protections from abuse by government. Political rights followed, in which those judged qualified for membership were granted tools and opportunities to influence governance. The final struggle in Marshall’s scheme, social rights, involved the provision of benefits and protections from the market for those granted membership in the polity. The content and form of social movements reflect the boundaries and bargains comprising the various dimensions of citizenship. Civil rights afford the dissatisfied with the political space needed to express the concerns and grievances, to find others who might agree, and to make claims on authorities. Without this space, dissent would be limited to episodic eruptions and direct resolution of claims. Hungry people, for example, would seize grain, rather than petition for welfare payments (Tarrow, 1998).

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