Conclusion: The Common Features and Different Roles of Protest Publics in Political Contestation
In this conclusion we provide a summary of the chapters and consider the benefits of applying the protest publics’ conceptual lens to the waves of protest that have broken out across the world in recent years. More specifically, we focus on the features of protest publics that were outlined in the introductory theoretical chapter and the extent to which these features can be found in the different country cases presented in the volume and how they help to understand local sociopolitical contexts. In this volume we argue that protest publics are a new phenomenon, though one that is variably connected with existing forms of social activism, and it allows for new kinds of collective civic engagement: protest publics, even though loosely organized and in certain circumstances can provide only modest immediate political results, still can be perceived as a collective actor that is capable of bringing about social and political change. As protest publics are often fluid and dynamic, at least compared with other, more institutionalized social and political actors, it is important to examine and thematize the dimensions of this fluidity. Further, the application of the protest publics framework in different political regimes will have strengths or limitations depending on the different functions that protest publics perform, which also needs to be specified. Finally, as this volume urges a renewed focus on protest studies, we will conclude with some principle questions that can be pursued in future research.