Social Movements and Democracy in Today's Politics
Americans learn that democratic practice involves working within institutions built to channel and manage a diversity of perspectives and interests, but those institutions aren’t self-sustaining. Social movements representing people frustrated by poor institutional performance can promote or undermine the functioning of democracy. During the past decade we’ve witnessed citizen movements from the left and right that challenge mainstream politics (e.g., Tea Party, Occupy, The Resistance). Meyer suggests that we should evaluate those movements by their potential to promote democracy, and that, as citizens, we should push contemporary movements to work to strengthen democratic institutions.
David S. Meyer is professor of sociology, political science, and planning, policy and design at the University of California, Irvine. He is author or editor of nine books, most recently (with Sidney Tarrow), The Resistance: The Dawn of the Anti-Trump Opposition Movement. He has also written many articles and book chapters on social movements and social change, mostly in the United States. He is the 2017 recipient of the John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship of Social Movements and Collective Behavior. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Boston University, and an undergraduate degree in literature from Hampshire College.