Social Protest in today’s Afro-Asian world: on research methodology issues
Moscow university of Foreign Relations Ministry (MGIMOUniversity), Moscow, Russia email@example.com
The article aims to systematize and streamline methodological research tools of social protest in Asian and African countries, especially those with authoritarian regimes. The author surveys three basic theoretical sociological concepts of protest. The concept of political opportunities focuses on the political environment for collective actions. The second concept of mobilizing structures addresses existing social institutions (both formal and informal), which shape institutional basis for transforming social grievance into collective action. For many Afro-Asian countries this concept is of particular importance for political institutions deeply archaic there while political culture contains a huge layer of the traditional society rudiments. The third concept of collective action focuses on the interpretating the process of maturing, articulation, organization and manifestation of social protest. This concept addresses not the substance of collective actions, but their cultural, civilizational, socio-psychological and moral backgrounds. Analyzing the social protest it is necessary to survey social base of protest movements. Researchers make a special emphasis on the importance of social mobilization. Inability to mobilize protesters deprives protest movement of any perspective because success depends mostly on the level of organization rather than the degree of social frustration and dissatisfaction. The study of the social base of the protest movements in authoritarian regimes of the non-Western world is inseparable from the concept of free spaces referring to certain lacunas exempt from direct state control. Emergence of free spaces is often correlated with the heterogeneity of the system of state violence. Repressive apparatus is usually not monolithic, but is a combination of different power structures with sophisticated division of labour. Another important research theme is the problem of leadership. This factor is extremely significant for both the task of social mobilization of protesters, and for activating opposition network communities. It is almost impossible to build a universal model that would fully explain the whole complex of interrelationships between repression, social grievance, collective action.