The Centre on Social Movement Studies


Where Did the Revolution Go? Contentious Politics and the Quality of Democracy by Donatella della Porta

Donatella della Porta

Where Did the Revolution Go? considers the apparent disappearance of the large social movements that have contributed to democratization. Revived by recent events of the Arab Spring, this question is once again paramount.

Picture description
Type: Monograph
Year: 2017

Book description

Where Did the Revolution Go? considers the apparent disappearance of the large social movements that have contributed to democratization. Revived by recent events of the Arab Spring, this question is once again paramount. Is the disappearance real, given the focus of mass media and scholarship on electoral processes and ‘normal politics’? Does it always happen, or only under certain circumstances? Are those who struggled for change destined to be disappointed by the slow pace of transformation? Which mechanisms are activated and deactivated during the rise and fall of democratization? This volume addresses these questions through empirical analysis based on quantitative and qualitative methods (including oral history) of cases in two waves of democratization: Central Eastern European cases in 1989 as well as cases in the Middle East and Mediterranean region in 2011.


Advance praise:‘This is a fascinating book exploring democratization processes with an innovative approach: blending social movement studies with the literatures on democratization and on revolutions. Rich in its use of captivating oral history interviews with activists, it asks the question [of] how movements’ characteristics at the time of transition might affect the qualities of the ensuing democracy, and therefore the future dynamics of protest itself. A must-read for scholars and activists alike.’

Laszlo Bruszt – Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, and Central European University, Budapest

Advance praise:‘Scholars have focused so much on the sources of democratization that they sometimes forget to examine how waves of mobilization end, and with what consequences. Drawing on the literatures on social movements, democratization, and revolutions, della Porta’s sweeping new book identifies common dynamics in democratization cycles. Drawing on a broad range of evidence ranging from Eastern Europe to the Arab Spring, she shows that the forms and pathways of mobilization influence the qualities of the ensuing regime. This is a book that students of comparative democratization, social movements, and revolutions cannot afford to miss.’

Sidney Tarrow – Cornell University

Advance praise:‘Donatella della Porta’s important new book persuasively shows how the complex legacies of the revolutionary pathway to democracy shape the nature of the new democracies that emerge through such dynamics – generally in very positive ways. With a foundation in broadly comparative research, the analysis identifies and disentangles cognitive, emotional and relational consequences of popular mobilizations in the context of regime change.’

Robert M. Fishman – Carlos III University, Madrid

Advance praise:‘Brilliant and illuminating! This book is timely and highly relevant indeed as our world rapidly transforms violently rather than democratically. It speaks as much to academics striving to bring together complex debates in the social sciences dealing with political transformations and pathways to democracy as it speaks to the activist. Donatella della Porta masters the art of critically and productively engaging with social movement and transformation literature alike and pushing for the intellectual limits of these. At the same time, she gives much well-deserved space to the actors, to those who brought the revolutions into life and still struggle to understand where the revolution went. A must-read for democratic revolutionaries, young and old.’

Cilja Harders – Free University of Berlin

Donatella della Porta (2017). Where Did the Revolution Go? Contentious Politics and the Quality of Democracy. Cambridge University Press




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A documentary by Dieter Rucht on the 2017 March for Science in Washington, D.C. - now available on YouTube.


COSMOS Talks Calendar - Second Semester 2018

Read here the full calendar of the COSMOS Talks Series


Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics

We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the 1st Summer School of the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism & Democracy on ‘Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics’, sponsored by the Centre for Research on Extremism (C-REX), the European Council for Political Research (ECPR), and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS).


Edited Volume - 2018

Solidarity Mobilizations in the ‘Refugee Crisis’. Contentious Moves

Donatella della Porta (ed.)
This edited volume ddresses a gap in research on social movements that has disregarded the origins of discontent and overlooks protest as a resource of the powerless; it offers insight into how the movement of refugees across the European Union and elsewhere activates political opportunities; it explores claims to citizenship made by refugees within processes of knowledge production and the mobilization of emotions

Journal Article - 2017

Reshaping Citizenship through Collective Action: Performative and Prefigurative Practices in the 2013–2014 Cycle of Contention in Bosnia & Hercegovina

Chiara Milan
This essay analyses the strategic practices adopted by social movement actors during the 2013 and 2014 mobilisations in Bosnia & Hercegovina. By bridging critical citizenship studies with literature on social movements, it classifies them as belonging to the realm of activist citizenship, but also as having a performative and prefigurative dimension.