Spring 2024 - IS 339 D100

Social Movements in the Global South (4)

Class Number: 5191

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Thu, 11:30 a.m.–2:20 p.m.

  • 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 329 or IS 419 with this topic, or IS 439 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? Then, we consider the utility of canonical theories and conceptual approaches to these questions in light of recent empirical research on movements and contentious politics in the global South.


By the end of the course, students:

  • gain substantive knowledge about social movements in the Global South;
  • improve their comprehension of social scientific arguments about them;
  • improve skills in synthesizing such arguments;
  • improve skills in assessing such arguments


  • Critical Discussion Papers (6.5% x 4) 26%
  • Responses to Discussion Papers (1% x 4) 4%
  • In-class Exam 30%
  • Essay 30%
  • Class Participation 10%



We will read large parts of the following books. Both are required and freely accessible at: https://www.lib.sfu.ca.

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.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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