Course Number: 
45312

Social groups with limited access to normal politics often engage in mobilization, or contentious politics, in order to gain rights, resources or recognition. Many of these social movements have emerged in cities. In this course, we will attempt to answer the following questions: What are urban social movements? What sorts of mobilizing opportunities and constraints do cities pose for disadvantaged social groups? How have these groups sought to take advantage of urban-based opportunities, and how successful have they been? What kinds of urban justice movements do we observe in early-twenty-first-century cities, and how might we understand and expand their potential? The course begins by looking briefly at "classic" approaches to social movements, followed by an examination of selected work on urban social movements, including foundational contributions from sociology and subsequent research in geography that explores issues of place, network and scale. The second half of the course will examine several sets of case studies, focusing particularly on recent instances of immigrant mobilization. The fundamental goal of the course is to strengthen analytical and strategic thinking about the relationship between social mobilization and the urban environment. We will also be evaluating academic work on social movements in terms of its utility for ongoing mobilization efforts.