Northern Illinois University

                                                     Department of Political Science



Fall 2007                                                                                             Professor:  L. Kamenitsa;      Office: Zulauf 107

MW 2-3:15                                                                                         Office Hours:  M 12:00-1:30 & 3:30-4:30 & by appt.

DuSable 461                                                                                       E-mail: LynnKam@niu.edu ; Phone: 753-7053        





This course focuses on political participation that falls outside of the traditional realm of institutional politics: political protest and social movements.  We will examine social movements as political actors seeking to shape public policy, public opinion, and political institutions.  We will discuss why people turn to protest and movements as avenues for political participation, the obstacles they confront in the process, and the outcomes of their efforts.  A major focus will concern the elements of successful (and unsuccessful) protest and how citizens can use protest to voice their political concerns.  The course is structured chronologically around particular themes, with movements from the 1960s used to illustrate early themes and contemporary movements used to illustrate later topics.  The selection of movements reflects the reality that most of the movements to emerge in the US in the last fifty years have been situated on the left of the political spectrum.  We do cover some movements on the right, however, to help us remember that the tactics of political protest are not inherently tied to a given ideology.





1) Sidney Tarrow. 1998. Power in Movement. 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press.


2) Required articles and book chapters are also assigned.  Most are available on-line via Blackboard, Electronic Reserve, Print Reserve, or other means.  Most of these required readings and the means of accessing them are indicated in the syllabus.  Additional readings will be announced in class or on Blackboard.


All reading assignments should be completed before the class period for which they are assigned. In the event that a student might miss a class, she/he is still responsible for any assignments, schedule changes, or other information given during that class period. The required text is available at the University Bookstore in HSC, the Village Commons Bookstore, and on amazon.com.


Individual course grades will be determined according to the following weighting:


            Exam I:                        30%

            Exam II:                       30%

            Research paper:          20%

            Participation:              10%

            Group project:             10%


There will be two exams for the course.  Each exam will draw primarily on material from the preceding part of the course.  However, Exam II may require you to draw on materials from the course as a whole in your assessments of political protest and social movements.  Exam format will include essays, objective items, and short answer questions.  THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP EXAMS GIVEN, except in cases of emergencies and then only at the discretion of the professor. If there are any problems or conflicts, contact the professor well in advance of the exam.


 The participation grade will reflect the student’s individual preparation for each class session as evidenced by her/his informed participation in the classroom.  The student’s work in the student activism fair and other classroom exercises will also be included here, as will her/his work as part of an action group.  That evaluation will be based on the instructor’s observations of group dynamics and confidential assessments of group work that each action group member will provide at the end of the semester.  At any point in the semester, students should feel free discuss their participation to date with me in office hours.


The group project grade will include both the mission statement/rationale and the final project presented in class.  All members of one action group will receive the same group grade.


NOTE: All written assignments must be typed or word-processed.  Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the specified date.  This means that work turned in after 2:05 on the due date will be considered late.  Late assignments will be penalized one third of a grade for each 24 hour period they are late (A- becomes B+).  Late work may be turned in to the main Political Science office (Zulauf 415) during regular business hours.  Students doing so should request a dated and timed receipt from the office staff. Work turned in more than one week late will be accepted only at the discretion of the professor. (Please do NOT slide papers under my office door.)




The class will consist of lectures and discussions.  Students will have ample opportunity to participate in making the course interesting and relevant.  Students' comments and questions on readings, lectures, and current events are welcome and encouraged.  Student comments about the social movement organizations they are researching will help enrich each class meeting.




            Most of the assignments and some of the communication for this course is conducted through the Blackboard Course Server.  This course website can be accessed only by students enrolled in this course.  The URL for Blackboard is http://webcourses.niu.edu . Login to Blackboard with your student Z-ID and password. For login questions go to http://www.helpdesk.niu.edu/ and click on “Blackboard” or contact ITS at 753-8100. The system uses your NIU student webmail account (NetMail).  If you wish to receive course-related e-mails at another address, you need to forward mail from your NIU account to another account. Learn how to do this on the ITS helpdesk home page (http://www.its.niu.edu/its/helpdesk/webmail_students.shtml).  It is your responsibility to set this up -- do it today!

Blackboard sometimes goes down unexpectedly.  Therefore, do not wait until the last minute to access materials you need on Blackboard.  For example, if an assignment for a Monday class has been posted for a week, an outage Sunday night will NOT be an acceptable excuse for not preparing for class. 



Any student found guilty of cheating or plagiarizing can receive an "F" for the assignment or exam and the course.  Criteria for these offenses are described in the Student Judicial Code and the Undergraduate Catalog.  If you have any questions about what needs to be cited, proper format or process in citation, what sources may be consulted, or what constitutes plagiarism or other forms of cheating, please ask the professor before the work is turned in or the exam is taken.



SEMESTER PROJECT: Group Action Project & Individual Research Paper

One goal of this course is to comprehend the complexity and difficulty of efforts to influence politics through protest.   We will spend a good deal of time analyzing the dilemmas faced by those who wish to create organizations, recruit supporters, frame issues, build coalitions, develop strategies, and plan protest actions.  To help us understand these dilemmas better, we will engage in some role playing and group work in which students undertake all of these tasks in creating a fictitious organization and planning a fictitious protest.  This project will take place over the course of the semester. It will entail individual research and writing, group planning, and a group presentation. The project has four parts.


Part One: Student Activism Fair & Organization Formation  (an in-class exercise in recruitment, finding common purpose, and creating collective identity)

            Early in the semester, fliers will be posted (most likely on Blackboard) inviting POLS 395 students to a Student Activism Fair.  Each flier will invite students concerned about a particular political issue or stance to meet each other at the fair.

            The actual fair will take place during class on Monday, September 17.  Students with similar interests will be encouraged to recruit each other into “action groups.” Ideally, this will entail some cajoling, compromising, even combining issue areas.  There will be an element of pressure here.  Each action group must end up with a specified number of members (probably 5).  This means that some students who choose an issue area will find there is not enough interest to form an action group and will have to join another action group.  In other cases, too many students may be interested in one issue area, so splinter groups will need to be formed.  [PLEASE NOTE: You do not need to choose your action group based on your personal political interests.  Indeed, you may want to choose a group that is distinctly different from your own stance.  Remember, this is role-playing, not reality. The issue areas will include a variety of options on the political spectrum.]


Resulting work:  A statement of the action group’s name, its general issue or political orientation, and a list of members will be turned in at the end of the Activism Fair.  This paper will also include a discussion of obstacles confronted in group formation and strategies used to overcome those obstacles. (Students will be graded individually on their general participation and effort expended in this role-playing exercise.)



Part Two: Individual research on real organization/movement (conducted on your own)

            Each individual student will choose a real-world social movement organization (or similar organization that seeks to influence politics through some contentious means) on which to conduct individual, original research.  Your final research paper will include an assessment of the organization’s political goals, strategic choices, framing efforts, tactical choices, successes, and failures.   The research should be based on a combination of scholarly sources, news reports, and available original documents from the organization itself. Your analysis will also need to make reference to specific arguments made by authors read in this course (with full citations).  The organization should be one that has been active at some point in the last ten to fifteen years.

Selecting your research organization: I strongly encourage each student to choose an organization that is related to your action group project.  This will make you individual research more applicable to your group project and save you research time.  It also means that you will want to look for some potential research topics before the Student Activism Fair. 

Each student must turn in a written paper proposal by Week 6.  The proposal will include a brief statement of which movement organization you will research, which time period (or series of actions) you will examine and why, and a list of likely sources to be consulted (with full citations for each source).

            Additional details will be available on Blackboard early in the semester.


Resulting Work: Paper proposal due Week 6; final research paper (7-9 pages) due Week 12.  (Research papers will be graded on originality, accuracy, and depth of research; quality of original analysis; demonstrated comprehension of course material; the ability to integrate the original research with course material; the clear articulation of points and arguments; and the clarity and quality of the writing.)



Part Three: Devising an Action Group Mission Statement (an out-of-class exercise in selecting and framing issues and refining group purpose)

            Your action group will meet out of class to develop a statement of purpose for your group and a presentation of the policy (or other political) goals of the organization.  The group must also include a rationale for why they agreed upon the statement they did, which audience they intend to reach with this statement, and the rationale for framing issues they way they did.  There must also be a discussion of the process of selecting those goals and the prospects of success in achieving them.


Resulting work:  Brief mission statement (one page) to be posted on course Blackboard site;  brief mission statement with appended two-page rationale and justification to be turned in to the professor. Due Week 9.



Part Four: Planning a Protest (an out-of-class and in-class exercise in selecting protest goals, targets, and tactics)

            Each action group will meet outside of class to design a political protest action.  Each group will present its protest action to other members of the course during Weeks 13 and 14.  The protest planning needs to take into account the organization’s mission, policy/political goals, targets, and other lessons for social movements discussed throughout the semester.  The idea here is for student groups to demonstrate that, by studying other movements and reading about protests, they have learned what makes a protest successful.  In the process, however, I encourage students to have some fun with this assignment. After all, creativity and originality are important elements of effective political protests.  If time permits, the entire class will engage in a critique of the each protest and its likely effectiveness on its target audience and in bringing about the desired political outcome.


            Resulting work:  A presentation of the protest and the rationale/justification for it will be made to the class. Groups are encouraged to be creative with this presentation. You can actually perform part of the protest followed by a discussion of the rationale. You can make a graphic presentation of what the protest would look like (you’ll have access to whatever audio/visual/computer equipment you need). You may choose to actually carry out the protest in class and distribute a handout with the rationale.  You could even perform the protest elsewhere and show a video of it in class, along with a discussion of the rationale.  Be creative here! 

PLEASE NOTE: If you choose to carry out the protest in class please make sure that it: is not illegal, will not damage any property, will not harm any course participant or other individual, will not result in the appearance of Campus Police or university administrators in our classroom.  If students choose to carry out their protest in-class or elsewhere, I will not be held responsible for any property damage, personal injury, or arrest. 

            (The presentation will be graded on extent to which it describes a realistic protest that demonstrates comprehension of course material.  Clarity and effectiveness of presentation, along with demonstrated preparation, will also be considered.  Each group member should participate equally in the preparation and presentation of the work.)




COURSE SCHEDULE: (Any changes will be announced in class or on Blackboard)


The method of accessing each reading is indicated in brackets [ ] after each citation. Readings followed by [Bb] will be available on Blackboard.


Week 1:  Introduction: Social Movements & Extraordinary Politics

8/27 & 8/29


Required Readings:  

Tarrow, Intro. & Chs.1-2 (“Introduction,” “ Contentious Politics and Social Movements,”  “Modular Collective Action”) pp. 1-42



Week 2:  Modern Social Movements: Some History & Theory  [Civil Rights Movement]

9/3 – Labor Day – no class



Required Readings:  

Tarrow, Chs. 3-4 (“Print and Association,” “State Building and Social Movements”) pp. 43-67.

 Euchner, Charles C. “Beyond Ordinary Politics.” In Extraordinary Politics: How Protest and Dissent Are Changing American Democracy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996. Pp. 1-27. [electronic reserve]



Week 3: Why People Protest and When  [Civil Rights Movement]

9/10 & 9/12


Required Readings:  

Tarrow, Ch.5 (“Political Opportunities and Constraints”), pp. 71-90.

Ling, Peter. 2000. “Racism for Lunch.” History Today 50, 2 (Fall): 36-8. [Bb]



Week 4:  The Power of Protest, the Question of Violence  [Anti Vietnam War]

9/17 Student Activism Fair  -- DON’T MISS THIS CLASS!



Required Readings:

Tarrow, Ch 6. (“Acting Contentiously”), pp. 91-105

Mark Barringer.  “The Anti-War Movement in the United States.” Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History. Ed. Spencer C. Tucker. Oxford, UK: ABC-CLIO, 1998. .  [The online source of this article http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/vietnam/antiwar.html includes a few photos.] [Bb]

Week 5:  The Power of Protest, the Question of Violence  (continued) [Anti Vietnam War]

9/24 & 9/26 


Required Readings:

Tarrow, Ch. 9 (“Cycles of Contention”), pp. 141-160

Sen, Rinku. “Picking the Good Fight.” Chapter 3 in Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003. Pp. 48-78. (Reading related to your Action Group Mission Statement) [electronic reserve]



Week 6:  Structure and Framing  [Feminist Movement ]




Required Readings:

Tarrow, Chs. 7-8 (“Framing Contention,” “Mobilizing Structures and Contentious Politics”), pp.106-138)

Freeman, Jo. “From Suffrage to Women’s Liberation: Feminism in Twentieth-Century America.” In Women: A Feminist Perspective, 5th edition. Edited by Jo Freeman. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1995. Pp., 509-528. [electronic reserve]

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Position Paper. “Women in the Movement.” November 1964. [Bb]

Freeman, Jo. 1970. “The Tyranny of Structurelessness.” Essay reprinted at http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/hist_texts/structurelessness.html [Bb]



Week 7:  Strategy/Tactics: Conventional Means & Direct Action

[Feminist Movement & Act Up]




Required Readings:

Tarrow, Ch. 10 (“Struggling to Reform”), pp. 161-175

Shaw, Randy. “Direct Action.” In The Activist’s Handbook. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.  Pp. 212-250. [electronic reserve]


Week 8:  Strategy/Tactics: Crossing ideological lines [Operation Rescue]

10/15 & 10/17 


Required Readings:

Johnson, Victoria. “The Strategic Determinants of a Counter Movement: The Emergence and Impact of Operation Rescue Blockades.” In Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties, edited by Jo Freeman and Victoria Johnson. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. Pp. 241-265.  [electronic reserve]

Leilani Corpus. “Operation Rescue & Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.” The Forerunner International, September 1988.  [Bb]

“Abortion Haunts the President.” The Economist, vol. 320, issue 7720 (8/17/91) [Bb]

T. Moreganthau and P. Rogers. “Target Witchita.” Newsweek, vol. 118, issue 8 (8/19/91) [Bb]

Paul Gray and Sarah Tippit. “Camp for Crusaders.” Time, Vol. 141, Issue 16 (4/19/93) [Bb]



Week 9:  Strategy & Tactics: Mobilizing the Grassroots for Politics [Christian Right Movement]




Required Readings:

Green, John C. “The Spirit is Willing: Collective Identity and the Development of the Christian Right.” In Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties, edited by Jo Freeman and Victoria Johnson. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. Pp. 153-167. [electronic  reserve]

Wilcox, Clyde. Excepts from Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics, Second Edition. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2000. Pp. 35-45 and 61-96. [electronic reserve]

Reed, Ralph. “ What Do Religious Conservatives Really Want?” In Disciples and Democracy: Religious Conservatives and the Future of American Politics. Edited by Michael Cromartie. Washington: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1994. Pp. 1-15. [electronic reserve]



Week 10:   Nuts and Bolts of Protests

10/29 & 10/31


Required Readings:

Sanderson Beck. “Group Process” &“Creative Actions.” An excerpt from his Non-violent Action Handbook available at: http://www.san.beck.org/NAH3-Group.html and  http://www.san.beck.org/NAH4-CreativeActions.html. [Bb]

Sen, Rinku. “Ready, Set, Action!” Chapter 4 in Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003. Pp. 79-96. [electronic reserve]


Week 11:  Corporate and Transnational Targets  [Anti-Sweatshop & Environmental Movements]

11/5 & 11/7 


Required Readings:

Tarrow, Chapter 11 (“Transnational Contention”), pp. 176-195.

Danaher, Kevin and Jason Mark. “‘Would You Want Your Sister to Work There?’ The Conflict Over Sweatshops” and “Flipper vs. the WTO: The Fight for Dolphin-Safe Tuna.” In  Insurrection: Citizen Challenges to Corporate Power. New York: Routledge, 2003. Pp. 65-136. [electronic reserve]



Week 12:   Effective Protest: Lessons from the Anti-Globalization Movement




Required Readings:

Smith, Jackie. “Globalizing Resistance: The Battle of Seattle and the Future of Social Movements.” In Globalization and Resistance: Transnational Dimensions of Social Movements. Edited by Jackie Smith and Hank Johnston. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. Pp. 207-227. [electronic reserve]

Hunter, Jennifer. “Rattled in Seattle.” Maclean's , vol. 12, no. 50 (12/13/99). [Bb]

Neumann, Rachel. A Place for Rage.”  David Glenn. “David Glenn Responds.” Rachel Neumann. “Rachel Neumann Replies.” This exchange of articles appeared in Dissent  vol. 47, no2 95-6 (Spring 2000). [Bb]



Week 13:   Nuts & Bolts in Action:  Protest Presentations

11/19 - Action Group presentations

11/21 – Thanksgiving Break – no class


Required Readings:

Action Groups’ Mission Statements



Week 14:   Nuts & Bolts in Action:  Protest Presentations

11/26  Action Group presentations

11/28 Action Group presentations


Required Readings:

Action Groups’ Mission Statements



Week 15:   Evaluating Movements: Do Movements Still Matter?

12/3 & 12/5


Required Readings:

Tarrow, “Conclusion,” pp. 196-210.

Additional readings TBA



Final Exam (Exam II): Monday, 12/10, 2:00 p.m. in DuSable 461



Undergraduate Writing Awards:  Papers written for 300-400 level courses in the Department of Political Science (including this course!) are eligible for the Department’s undergraduate writing award.  Your hard work could earn you $50, a certificate, and a nice line on your resume.  Papers written in calendar year 2007 are due in February 2008. See the Department website for more details.


Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities:  Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Department of Political Science Web Site:  This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu .