Массовый политический протест: проблемы концептуализации и методологии анализа
Mass political protests in recent years, since the events of the "Arab Spring" 2010-2011 years, when citizens' political actions covered the Middle East and North Africa, and ending with the latest developments in Ukraine are an important factor of political changes. At the same time, once it has arisen, protests continue and preserve its influence on political developments in the US and Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand and many other countries from all continents of the world. This allows some researchers speak of the emergence of a new phenomenon - the phenomenon of protest groups of individuals or communities protest (protest publics). The last are not only factors, but also the actors of political changes in modern polities that requires clarification of existing methodological approaches and research tools of political change, as well as the roles of the different driving forces (actors and factors) in the process.
This chapter analyses the nature of protests in Iceland, the United Kingdom and the United States in America from 2008 to 2016. We focus on the nature of these protests, forms of collective actions, main drivers of the protests and the resulting political changes. It allows us to determine that protests played the role of the challengers of the status quo — protested against the current political state in their countries and tried to develop alternatives by revoking practices of direct democ- racy, creating public spaces for discussions and promote their ideas among the broad public.
The article discusses the issues of urban public space in Russian cities in the context of the anti-electoral fraud protests in 2011-2012. The role of urban public space and its contestation has become central to the debate on the worldwide wave of Occupy movement, but it is important to contextualize the protest movements in national and local developments in public space use. Therefore, the article focuses on the post-socialist transformations of public space in Russian cities, St. Petersburg and Moscow. Attitudes, representations, and perceptions of public space are studied on the basis of media analysis (including mass media, blog entries, as well as official documents). The analysis shows, that the importance of the space in Russian anti-electoral protests in 2011-2012 was significant, the protesters strived to reclaim the central and symbolically loaded parts of the city, and thus regain the political authority as well. The way of reclaiming the space is now not only organizing rallies and protest street actions, but also a variety of direct actions aiming at transforming the urban space.
This chapter aims to examine how mass protests affected processes of socio-political changes in Russia and China in the case of Hong Kong and Turkey. All three countries (with certain exceptions in the case of Hong Kong) are characterized as authoritarian states where blast of mass protests happened during the period 2011-2017. In each case, the situation with authoritarian rule has different aspects: Russia slowly moves from a democratic hybrid regime to authoritarianism since 2003 under control of president Vladimir Putin; In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is trying to unite the nation around his figure and changing political regime to achieve undisputed power; Hong Kong was under British rule till 1999 and returned into China on a particular agreement that the political regime established during the “colonial” period, which will not be reduced to all-China conditions. Nevertheless, different pathways led to similar results – shrinking space for independent political institutions and violations of fundamental rights and freedoms are not tolerated by the part of society in all three countries. Without working mechanisms to launch policy change, citizens choose protests as a way to show authorities their disagreement and anger over the authoritarian manner of policy-making.
The Arab Spring affected a large number of countries North Africa, but the intensity and nature of protests were different from one country to another. In some cases, protests led not only to the overthrow of authoritarian leaders, but to civil war and harsh clashes among ethnic and religious groups. Nonetheless, the nature of the regime type that might be said to depict these groups is the “hybrid regime” which combines authoritarianism and some aspects of electoral democracy. Hence, mass protests played the same role among the three hybrid regime countries: Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
The political situation in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt after the Arab Spring revolutions witnessed multi-faceted changes. Based on the theory of political change, we can track different situational, institutional and policy changes that occurred in the three countries after the protests: “New Political Elite” in Tunisia: from Islamists to a regime of technocrats and democrats; Constitutional reforms in Morocco: The steady "Palace" knows well how to play the game with Islamists; The Islamist failure and rise of the army into power in Egypt.
In the selected countries mass protests served as specific triggers for change that led to different kinds of democratic development. The features of every state and a combination of involved actors and key factors determined the nature of such changes, but taking into account general patterns, we could say that the main trend of political and democratic change was certainly close in each case. Therefore, the role of protest publics in hybrid regimes can be described as “triggers” of democracy whereby efforts to democratize are slowly getting off the ground under authoritarian conditions.
Assessing the nature, factors and alternatives of contemporary social change is a key challenge for contemporary social science requiring methodological approaches fit to interpret the radical transformations of the institutions and the habitat, of the individual’s mentality and modes of behavior. The way development has been perceived exclusively within the capitalist Western-oriented model is being reconsidered, and the principal methodological approaches of qualitative research in the field are being scrutinized. The critical characteristics of contemporary development are clearly manifested in the political sphere: the emergence of new institutions and new actors transform political spaces and reframe the conventional understanding of politics. The authors test the possibilities of achieving a methodological synthesis in studying political change and propose approaches to overcome the “methodological nationalism” which has so far dominated political science. This revision can be achieved, it is argued, by adequately using the understated cognitive potential of identity studies and by introducing into the research framework, alongside institutions and collective actors, the spatial and the individual, personal dimensions of political development. The edited volume presents the results of the research project funded by the Russian Foundation for the Humanities № 12-03-00306a “The methodology of analyzing political and sociocultural development and forecasting social and political change in the modernization context”.
Samuel A. Greene, one of the leading British experts on Russia and post-Soviet space, presents a thoughtful and comprehensive study of the evolution of Russian civil society in Moscow in Movement: Power and Opposition in Putin’s Russia. Greene’s book presents a noteworthy reflection on Russia’s political regime, elite strategies, and social movement organization. It balances theoretical speculations on the nature of the Russian political regime with a new, refreshing perspective on the acute problems of state-society relations, explored through several case studies.
This article deals both with the problems related to the state, statehood and stateness and to the regime changes, democracy and democratization. The latter aspect nowadays has come to foreground of comparative political studies, especially if we are talking about up-to-date political changes and political development.