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Tactics and Strategic Action


We discuss ongoing debates over tactical choice and change, from Tilly's action repertoires model and protest event analysis to more recent actor-centred approaches stressing the importance of identity and taste. We argue that while contentious politics approaches capture the macro-level of analysis well, it is at the cost of a persuasive reading of micro-level agency, prioritising form over purpose and meaning-making. We illustrate our argument with discussion of various actions, including a climate justice demonstration at the Paris COP21 Conference, cacerolazo protests in Latin America, and the symbolism of boycotts. We underline the importance of spatial analysis, and the effects of temporal framing on our understanding of tactical development. We conclude by discussing recent work on strategic fields, strategic adaptation, and strategic interaction, and emphasise the importance of analysis of reflexive learning processes within movements.

Acceptance Date Nov 29, 2018
Publication Date Nov 29, 2018
Pages 271 -288
Book Title The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, 2nd edition
ISBN 9781119168553
Keywords social movements, demonstrations, protest movements, interest groups, tactics, strategy, repertoire, contentious politics, protest
Publisher URL,+2nd+Edition-p-9781119168553