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Social Protest and Democracy 101: Defining the Idea of Social Protest


The issue of Social Protest and Democracy plays a central role in Political Science. This specific topic is a backbone of contemporary politics, as political and socio-economic aspects of the life of every nation revolve around the idea of the establishment of a democratic form of governance. Democracy, for the majority of people, is an end goal where prosperity and peace are guaranteed. Although the effectiveness and core idea of democracy in the contemporary politics is open to critical analyses, willigness to achieve prosperity and peace remains the priority for everyone. Therefore, it becomes necessary to challenge those who abuse their power and take an advantage of being the heads of the decision-making process. One of the most crucial set of continuous actions that serves as a mechanism of scrutiny for the legislators is resistance implemented through social protests. The following 101 series will attempt to identify if social protests are, indeed, a key towards the establishment of prosperity. The series will analyze the concept of social protest, its core meaning and significance, different forms and motives that shape social movements and the special link between democracy and social insurgence. These articles will critically assess the role of social protests and their true purposefulness in the contemporary world.

This 101 series is divided into seven articles including:

1. Social Protest and Democracy 101: Defining The Idea Of Social Protest.

2. Social Protest and Democracy 101:Conceptualization of the term ‘democracy’ in the context of contemporary politics

3. Social Protest and Democracy 101: The special linkage between social protests and democracy

4. Social Protest and Democracy 101:Motives behind the social protests - case studies

5. Social Protest and Democracy 101: Social Resistance through violence or peace

6. Social Protest and Democracy 101:Social Protests in the age of social media

7. Social Protest and Democracy 101:The impediments to a successful social resistance

8. Social Protest and Democracy 101:Is Social Protest an answer?

Social Protest and Democracy 101: Defining The Idea Of Social Protest

It was November of 1999 when the peasants irrigators of Cochabamba, one of the largest cities of Bolivia, unanimously with rugged determination initiated the long-lasting marches by staging a set of barricades in response to a newly passed legislation that possessed a threat to the livelihoods of ordinary people (Schultz, 2008). The importance of this scenario is not rooted in the historical or politico-societal evaluation of the case, although these factors serve as a premise for a broader analysis. The significance of this particular issue is the fact that it exemplifies an organized collective attitude toward the unwelcoming set of events. The deep analysis of this particular scenario from the Cochabamba Water Wars demonstrate the core meaning, as well as the characteristic of social movement theory, in contemporary politics. This case is one of the most vital occurrences of the 21st century as it serves as a significant example of the role that social protests play in people’s lives.

Before attempting to explore the main concepts of social protests in the political context, it is essential to delve into the conceptualization and the terminology of the term itself. Social protest has become a major part of the political culture in modern nation-states, especially in the western hemisphere. The Section 2(c) of the “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” (2017), for instance, unequivocally states that every individual has the right to assembly and the right of association (p.1), and these rights are fundamental to everyone and protected by the law. This is one example out of many in which the constitutions and the legal enactments of the countries, most of which identify themselves as democratic, impose the section on freedom of assembly or, simply speaking the freedom to social protest.