Studying Dynamics of Repression and Mobilization in Protest Cycles: An Analytical Framework Proposal

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Debora MACIEL, São Paulo Federal University - Unifesp, Brazil, Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning - Cebrap, Brazil
Marta MACHADO, Law School - Getúlio Vargas Foundation - São Paulo, Brazil, Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning - Cebrap, Brazil
The challenge of researching about the state’s repression on protests has been to build theoretical and methodological models that capture the dynamic (temporality) and interactive (non-linearity) character of the phenomenon. The main analytical and empirical problem is to identify sociopolitical mechanisms and describe processes of repression and mobilization in their reciprocal effects. Two issues still remain too little developed in the social movements literature. The first is the stream of repressive state strategies on an ambiguous continuum from informal or unlawful control (use of police force, surveillance, agents’ infiltration) to lawful control (use of criminal prosecution in courts and legal changes in parliaments). The second is the emergence of meta protests against state repression as backlash mechanism. Especially in democracies, the human rights mobilization can change the protest field, throughout cycles of protests, by spreading and connecting contentious episodes from the local space of streets to national and international spaces.

We propose a more integrated analytical framework for simultaneously observing streams of contentious interactions between activists and the State in a variety of arenas and throughout different phases of the recent Brazilian protest cycle (2013-2016). Based on recent methodological debates (state, law and social movements, theories of fields, arenas and repertoires), the paper shows how we are investigating dynamics of repression and mobilization in three contentious episodes through various methodologies: 1) the interaction strategic and symbolic between police and protesters (protest events analysis); 2) the dispute by juridical repertories between protesters’ lawyers and state agents in courts (socio-legal study of criminal prosecution and legal mobilization processes); 3) the human rights activists and lawyers’ mobilization (network analysis) inside and between arenas and the sociopolitical mechanisms that they set in motion: in protest spaces (micromobilization processes) and in national state and international arenas (scale shift and repertories diffusion processes).