Fall 2020 - IS 439 D600

Social Movements in the Global South (4)

Class Number: 8406

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 11:20 AM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Examines the nature, activities, and effects of social movements across the Global South. Uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore how social movements shape and respond to political, economic, and social transformation. Considers their relationship with political parties, states, and media and assesses the conditions under which movements emerge and succeed. Students who have taken IS 339, IS 329 or IS 419 with this topic may not take this course for further credit.


From racial justice mobilizations in Brazil to pro-democracy protests in China, social movements around the world are commonly credited with driving multiple processes of political, social, and cultural transformation. But how can we define and understand phenomena as diverse and complex as contemporary social movements? This course aims to build a conceptual and theoretical toolkit for doing so by examining the interplay between foundational and emerging scholarship on social movements in the global South. The seminar introduces current research on movements globally and considers how such scholarship dialogues with canonical work from sociology and other social sciences. Thus, we become familiar with key concepts and theories that social movement scholars have used to gain analytic purchase on major questions in the field, such as the following: What are social movements? What do social movements do? How do they operate? What relationships have they had to political parties, states, and media? What kinds of consequences have they had? When do social movements get what they want?


By the end of the course, students:

  • gain substantive knowledge of social movement in the Global South;
  • improve their comprehension of social scientific and journalistic arguments about them;
  • improve skills in synthesizing such arguments;
  • improve skills in crafting argumentative essays that critically examine such arguments


  • Class Participation 10%
  • Critical Discussion Papers (4 x 6.5%) 26%
  • Responses to Discussion Papers (4 x 1%) 4%
  • Essays (2 x 30%) 60%


The instructor reserves the right to change the syllabus as needed throughout the semester.

Some portions of this class will be taught through synchronous meetings. Please look at the schedule and contact the instructor in advance if you foresee any issues with attending these meetings due to your time zone or caregiving responsibilities.  

Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.


Remote learning for this semester requires the following:



We will read large parts of the following books. Both are required:

Tarrow, Sidney. 2011. Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics. (Revised and Updated Third Edition). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tufekci, Zeynep. 2017. Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Selected articles, book chapters, and other textual sources constitute much of the required reading for the course. These readings will be made available in digital form online through our Canvas website, through the SFU Library website, or through links to downloadable materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).