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Overall, your book report should focus on the central argument(s) (thesis) of the book followed by a thorough description of evidence presented in

Overall, your book report should focus on the central argument(s) (thesis) of the book followed by a thorough description of evidence presented in


Overall, your book report should focus on the central argument(s) (thesis) of the book followed by a thorough description of evidence presented in the book to back up the author’s claims. In the introduction of the book report, you will identify the author’s thesis and explain it in your own words. You will include a brief introduction of the topic or the summary of the book to provide a meaningful context for the thesis statement. In your Introduction you will also tell the reader the three distinct pieces of evidence or cases—that is, the three chapters from McAlevey, each one is a case—that you will analyze in your report. 

Online Course, Synchronous class meeting time:

Fridays, 10:10 AM

Professor Jay Arena

Office Hours: Fridays, 9-10 AM (use the zoom link on black board), Tuesdays, 5:30-6:30 PM

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 718-982-3779

Let me give you a word on the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all absorbing, and for the time being putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blow, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Frederick Douglass, 1857, Canandaigua, New York, The Significance of Emancipation in the West Indies

For the full speech, go to: Speeches_by_Frederick_Douglass.pdf

Course Description

How have seemingly powerless people collectively improved, and at times radically changed, their lives and the society in which they lived? That is, how have they organized “social justice movements”? What factors—historical, social, economic, political—promote the emergence of social justice movements? How, conversely, have powerful groups and institutions resisted these efforts in order to maintain their own privilege, as well as undertake their own social movements to transform society to meet their interests? What is the relationship of the courts, prisons, police and policing to social movements? Why do social movements succeed at times and how do they fail in others? This course will examine these broad questions through an engagement with sociological theories of social movements to study various contemporary and historical social movements.

This course will help students achieve the following learning objectives

· Demonstrate knowledge of the major sociological perspectives and concepts in social movement research.

· Be able to critically assess the development of social movements through key theoretical perspectives and concepts

· Understand the roles the state, including the police, have played in social movements

· Demonstrate knowledge of the factors – historical, social, economic, political – that promote the emergence, development and decline of protest movements

· How to be socially responsible and civically engaged through social movements. (see CSI General Education Goals)

· Jane McAlevey, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780190868659. Available at the CSI Bookstore.

· Other course readings will be posted on the course blackboard site.

· On the syllabus I include a section entitled “supplemental” certain weeks that include readings and podcasts that are not required, but do further elaborate the topic we are examining. Also, although not required, I recommend acquiring a copy of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. This classic work, which all Sociology & Anthropology majors in particular should be familiar with, provides a vivid, sweeping, historical account of the impressive social movements for social justice in the U.S. from 1492 onward.


· Attendance and Participation: 20% of grade.

· Discussion Board posts: 20% of grade

· Learning By Doing Project: Attending Demonstration/Meeting: 15% of grade

· Social Movement Book Report: 25% of grade

· Midterm: 20% of grade

The final letter grade will be calculated on the following 100 point scale:

A = 96-100 A- = 90-95

B+ = 87-89 B = 84-86 B- = 80-83

C+ = 70-79 C = 65-69

D = 60-64 F = 59 & below

1) Participation: 20% of your final grade

Students are expected to come to each class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. You cannot learn sociology passively through memorization of what is in the textbooks or what the professor says. You have to participate actively in your learning, debating the issues and deciding for yourself what you think. Participating in discussions is one of the best ways to learn. Participation means the contribution of insightful comments on the basis of the assigned readings. To do this effectively, you must complete your readings by the beginning of each class and take notes on those readings. Participation includes not only speaking but also respectful, active listening. Treat your colleagues’ contributions, including your professor, with respect (which means taking them seriously and challenging them as well as extending basic courtesy).

In addition, I will periodically stop the class and provide a question about what has been reviewed/discussed and have you provide a written response. You must obviously be present—not simply listed as registered in zoom—to complete the assignment.

0 Did not attend class

65 No contribution related to the readings discussed

75 Small contribution, demonstrating knowledge of at least one reading

90 Solid contribution, demonstrating familiarity with most readings

100 Excellent contribution, demonstrating engaged reflection upon the readings

2) Discussion Board posts: 20% of your final grade

Each week I will have question(s) about the readings posted on the discussion board feature of black board. At a minimum, you need to respond to readings for seven (7) different class sessions. These responses will range from one to the three paragraphs and will be due by Friday at 7 AM.

3) Learning By Doing Project: Organizing and/or Attending a Demonstration or Meeting: 15% of your grade

This exercise is informed by the insight that we learn through doing. Students can either attend a demonstration in the community or attend an online meeting of a social movement organization. You can choose an issue and group you are interested in, but I will also provide various options. In either case, you must confirm with me in advance the meeting or demonstration you are attending. You will write a three-page typed report that will include how you learned about the demonstration/meeting, why you attended, and an ethnographic description of what transpired at the demonstration/meeting (including providing information on who organized it, the target and issue). In your reporting on the event, you will also use at least two social movement concepts, themes or arguments to analyze the demonstration/meeting. When applicable, you also need to provide a photograph of yourself at the event, a name and contact for one of the organizers, and ideally a flyer publicizing the demonstration/meeting.

The report is due a week after you have attended the event. It is always better to write up a report when the event is fresh in one’s mind.

4) Midterm: 20% of your grade

5) Social Movement Book Report: 25% of your grade

You will write a book report on Jane McAlevey’s book, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, which we will be reading in class. The directions for the book report have been uploaded to the content section of blackboard.

Class Policies

Attendance and Behavior

You are expected to attend all our synchronous class sessions and to come to class on time. I do not excuse absences for any reason. CUNY rules allow you two unexcused absences. After those two, all other absences will result in a reduction in your grade. 3 absences will lower your final grade half a letter grade and 4 absences will lower your grade by one full letter grade. More than 4 absences will result in a grade of WU. I take attendance at the beginning of the class. Class discussion is a key part of the course. For this to be productive it is important we listen and respond with respect to what others have to say.


Since we are meeting online, it is especially important that you regularly check your CSI email account. I will regularly send out messages through Blackboard’s group email service to your address (NB: make sure Blackboard has your CSI email on file. The system only allows messages to go out to CSI and other CUNY accounts, though I think it makes sense to have and use your CSI email. If it is not listed it is your responsibility to make the necessary change). Students can update their emails directly in the system by following these instructions:

If students cannot login to their CUNY email, they should send an email to: [email protected] for assistance with resetting their SLAS passwords.

Zoom and Internet Issues

If for some reason the internet connection is lost from the instructor’s end please stay by your computer and wait for further instruction. You will receive an email on how to reconnect.

For a free, CUNY-provided subscription to zoom, go to:

Tutoring Support

For online tutoring services offered by CSI, go to:


I reserve the right to change the course schedule and requirements depending on the needs of the class, however you should make sure that you thoroughly understand what is in this document. It is a contract that spells out what you need to do to succeed in this class.

Plagiarism and Cheating Are Violations of Formal University Norms

CSI’s policy on plagiarism and cheating: “It is violated by such acts as borrowing or purchasing assignments (including but not limited to term papers, essays, and reports) and other written assignments, using concealed notes or crib sheets during examinations, copying the work of others and submitting it as one’s own; and misappropriating the knowledge of others. The sources from which one derives one’s ideas, statement terms, and data, including Internet sources, must be fully and specifically acknowledge in the appropriate form, failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. Violations of academic integrity may result in failure in a course and disciplinary actions with penalties such as suspension or dismissal from the College.”

Gender and Gender Pronouns

This course affirms people of all gender expressions and gender identities. If you prefer to be called a different name than what is on the class roster, please let me know. Feel free to correct me on your preferred gender pronoun. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Synchronous Class Meeting Days/Times

Jan. 28 Introduction to Course, Professor, and Fellow Students

Section I: What Is a Social Movement? How Are They Studied?

Feb. 4 Disruptive Power

Readings: “The Nature of Disruptive Power,” Francis Fox Piven, Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America (Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) (Chapter 2)

Interview with Frances Fox Piven: “We Should Be Prepared for Incredible Waves of Mass Protest”:

SUPPLEMENTAL: Listen to interview of the late historian and activist Howard Zinn on how seemingly powerless people can exercise power. What is the key source of power of movements according to Zinn? What historical examples does he provide? What impacts can movements have at the societal and individual level according to Zinn?

Feb 8 Classes Follow a Friday Schedule

Movements from Above and Below

Readings: Alf Gunvald Nilsen and Laurence Cox, “What Would a Marxist Theory of Social Movements Look Like?,” pp. 63-79. (skim 79-81)

Colin Barker, “Class Struggle and Social Movements,” pp. 41-62 (pay special attention to sections 5, 6, 7, 8, pp. 47-53)

SUPPLEMENTAL: Rosa Luxemburg, “The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions” (Excerpt), pp. 219-228

Feb. 11 Holiday, No Class

Feb. 18 PATCO Strike: Disruptive Social Movements from Below and Above

Forty Years Since the PATCO Strike (Read all five short segments)

Feb. 25 Political Opportunities and the Civil Rights Movement

Reading: Doug McAdam, Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, 2nd edition):

Reading: Chapter 3

SUPPLEMENTAL: Documentary: Eyes On the Prize, Awakenings, Part 1 1954-1956,

Part 2, 1957-1962

Part 3, 1960-1961

Part 4, 1962-1966

Part 5, 1962-1964

March 4 (Cont.) Political Opportunities and the Civil Rights Movement

Reading: Doug McAdam, Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, 2nd edition):

Reading: Chapter 5

Section II: Movements from Above and the Role of Policing

March 11 What is the role of the police?

Reading: Alex Vitale, The End of Policing, Chapters 1 (skim), 2 and 10

Supplemental: Interview with Vitale, Envisioning An America Free From Police Violence and Control, The Intercept,;

Ursula Wolf-Rocca, Why Should We Teach About the FBI’s War on the Civil Rights Movement, Common Dreams, March 1, 2016;

Audio of Interview of Vitale, starts at about the 25 minute mark,

March 18 (Vitale Continued) Chapters 3 (The School to Prison Pipeline), Chapter 9,

(Border Policing), Conclusion

March 25 Midterm

Section III: Applying Analytical Tools to Study Movements

April 1 Jane McAlevey, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Reading: Introduction and Chapter 2 (pp. 27-30, 50-70)

April 8 No Shortcuts, Reading: Chapters 3 and 4

April 15 & 22 No Class, Spring Break

April 29 No Shortcuts, Reading: Chapter 5 and Conclusion (esp. pp. 199-200, 206)

May 6 Getting Strike Ready at CUNY: Through Organizing or Mobilizing?

Spring 2021 PSC-CSI Action Committee Teach In:

Why Strike? A Conversation About Strike Readiness

Guest Speakers from the PSC-CSI Chapter

May 13 Book Report Drafts Due

May 20 Book Report Due

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