Publication: “Conceptualizing Protest and Conflict”

Sara Burke (Ed.)
FES New York  – Study, July 2015
ISBN 9778-3-95861-181-8

In recent years, the world has been shaken by protests demanding real democracy and justice for socioeconomic grievances. This interdisciplinary report explores how governments and institutions of global governance can better respond to contentious politics and protests. Are they expressions of aspirations, grievances and demands? Or are they conflicts to be managed and subdued? From the point of view of government and governance, protests disrupt smooth governance, requiring management by experts in conflict resolution. From the point of view of protest movements and social justice campaigns, the performance of contentious acts must be carried out by people themselves – non-experts – acting directly on their own behalf and for the transformation of their economies and societies. This state of play is a zero sum game. To go beyond it, governments need to listen to protests. Even riots should be seen first as expressions of injustice and demands for its reversal rather than as conflicts to be put down.

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