World Protests – Rising Outrage and Discontent

This study analyzes 843 protests occurring between January 2006 and July 2013 in 84 countries covering over 90% of the world population. The paper focuses on: (i) major grievances driving world protests (ii) who is demonstrating, what protest methods they use, and who are they opposed to (iii) achievements and repression of social movements in the short term, and (iv) the main policy demands of world demonstrators. There have been periods in history when large numbers of people rebelled about the way things were, demanding change, such as in 1848, 1917 or 1968; today we are experiencing another period of rising outrage and discontent, and some of the largest protests in world history. Although the breadth of demand for economic justice is of serious consequence, the most sobering finding of the study is the overwhelming demand (218 protests), not for economic justice per se, but for what prevents economic issues from being addressed:a lack of “real democracy”, which is a result of people’s growing awareness that policy-making has not prioritized them—even when it has claimed to—and frustration with politics as usual and a lack of trust in the existing political actors, left and right. This demand and the crisis of political representation it expresses is coming from every kind of political system, not only authoritarian governments but also representative democracies which are failing to listen to the needs and views of ordinary people.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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