Challenging Authority: The Historical Study of Contentious Politics

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Michael P. Hanagan, Leslie Page Moch, Wayne Philip Te Brake
U of Minnesota Press, 1998 - Political Science - 284 pages
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As long as there have been formal governments, there has been political contention, an interaction between ruler and subjects involving claims and counterclaims, compliance or resistance, cooperation, resignation, condescension, and resentment. Where political studies tend to focus on either those who rule or those who are ruled, the essays in this volume call our attention to the interaction between these forces at the very heart of contentious politics.

Written by prominent scholars of political and social history, these essays introduce us to a variety of political actors: peasants and workers, tax resisters and religious visionaries, bandits and revolutionaries. From Brazil to Beijing, from the late Middle Ages to the present, all were or are challenging authority.

The authors take a distinctly historical approach to their subject, writing both of specific circumstances and of larger processes. While tracing their origins to the social history and structural sociology approaches of the sixties and seventies, the contributors have also profited from subsequent critiques of these approaches. Taken together, their essays demonstrate that the relationship between mobilization for collective action and identity formation is a perennial problem for protest groups -- a problem that the historical study of contentious politics, with its focus on political interaction, can do much to explain.


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Part II Repertoires of Political Contention
Par Ill Constellations of Political Opportunity

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About the author (1998)

Michael Hanagan has taught at Vanderbilt and Columbia Universities and has long experience in teaching undergraduate history. He currently teaches courses in world history, global history and international studies at Vassar College. He is the author of several books, including The Logic of Solidarity and Nascent Proletarians. He has edited a number of collections. Most recently he edited (with Chris Tilly) Contention and Trust in Cities and States. He is also finishing a manuscript with Miriam Cohen on the comparative history of the welfare state in England, France and the United States between 1870 and 1950. He served as senior editor for the journal International Labor and Working-Class History for four years, has been on the Consulting Board of Theory and Society for the last seven. He is currently a co-editor of the series Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics. He is currently working on an essay on world history for the UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems.

Leslie Page Moch is Professor of History at Michigan State University. She is the author of books including The Pariahs of Yesterday: Breton Migrants in Paris and Moving Europeans: Migration in Western Europe since 1650.

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