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Rebels without a cause

What the upsurge in protest movements means for global politics

From the Arab revolutions to the Occupy movements, there has been an upsurge in popular protests in the past couple of years. The protests have varied in nature by country and context, but one striking feature is the rise of new social movements that defy easy categorisation and reject conventional modes of political engagement. This essay outlines the key differences between protest types, analyses what is specific and new about modern-day protests, and draws out the consequences for global political developments.

The world in protests: interactive map

(selected protests, by type and country, 2009-13)

Use the arrows at the top of the left-hand bar to move the map within the frame. Use the scale bar on the left to zoom in/out. Use the "home" icon at the top of the left-hand bar to restore the map to its original settings.

legend-A Regime change/anti-authoritarian

legend-D Mixed (Regime change/anti-authoritarian; traditional focus)

legendB Traditional focus

legendE Mixed (Regime change/anti-authoritarian; NSM)

legendC New social movements (NSM)

legendF Mixed (Traditional focus; NSM)       

An interview with the author



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© The Economist Intelligence Unit 2013