Summer 2020 - SA 321 D100

Social Movements (S) (4)

Class Number: 2163

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 9:30 AM – 1:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 17, 2020
    3:20 PM – 3:29 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



A study of the sources, development and effects of social movements in transitional and modernized societies. Specific types of movements will be analysed.


This course will address the relevance and dynamics of social movements for state and civil society relations in the context of the Global South. It revolves around the following questions: Where do social conflicts originate from? How do they translate into collective action? How are people organized to struggle for their interests through collective action? How can we assess the outcome of social mobilization? What does the experience of the South tell us about the inner workings of social movements?

Students will be introduced to key theories of social mobilization, mostly generated in North America and Europe (relative deprivation and strain models, resource mobilization, political process, framing, contentious politics, new social movements and Marxism), although some of these have been critiqued, modified or enhanced with empirical work and visions from the South. Our weekly seminars will allow us to delve more deeply into these theories through structured discussions and documentary excerpts. Several issues—e.g. working-class mobilization, urban mobilization, environmental activism, peasant and indigenous movements, gender activism, citizenship rights, revolutions, terrorism, and ethnicity—will be addressed in the context of the South (including China and Russia).

Weekly seminars will consist of a combination of lectures, seminar discussions of assigned readings, and documentaries. Lectures will only provide the historical and conceptual background for in-class case study discussions on readings, documentaries or current-news articles.


The course will introduce students to social movements in the Global South. Students will finish the course with an intermediate-level knowledge of the conditions under which movements emerge, succeed, and often fail. They will acquire a broad range of conceptual and analytical tools for examining social movements across a diverse range of countries and learn how to use them to understand and report about a case study of their choice.


  • Discussion papers (4 x 6%) 24%
  • Discussion responses (3 x 2%) 6%
  • Midterm exam 30%
  • Final exam (take-home) 30%
  • Participation 10%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.



Universal Access Remote learning for this semester requires a computer or tablet, camera, and internet access. Most laptops and desktops are running OSX and Windows. Tablets may be Android, iOS or Windows based. Headsets are advised but not necessary. Note that students have access to free Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud found here.


Buechler, Steven M. (2011). Understanding Social Movements: Theories from the Classical Era to the Present. Routledge. (no purchase required)
ISBN: 978-1-594519161

Additional readings will be available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course 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.

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 ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion