HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.


Guided by this historical view, this chapter has two main aims. In the first section, our goal is to situate global social movements in a longue-durée perspective, outlining what we see as three patterns in how transnational collective action has both taken shape in the real world and been studied by social scientists. Following the proposal and scope of a handbook, we offer a select review of research that speaks to the multiple levels and scales at which social movements operate. Within the vast literature on transnational activism, we identify three genres of scholarship: (1) labor internationalism (and the anti-racist and anti-colonial movement studies that similarly address how activists confront global capitalism); (2) polity studies, which takes the nation-state as the primary movement target; and finally (3) a postmodern and postcolonial turn to the universal dynamics of social contestation. In our survey of this literature, we aim to identify what was gained and what was lost in the transition from one paradigm to the next. In the second half of the chapter, we outline a research agenda that takes these lessons into account by considering the content, form, and temporality of global social movements.


Bringel, Breno, and Elizabeth McKenna. "Social Movements in a Global Context: History, Content, and Form." The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook. Ed. Walter W. Powell and Patricia Bromley. Stanford University Press, 2020, 631-647.