Different forms of contentious politics such as social movements, revolutions, ethnic mobilizations, and cycles of protest share a number of causal properties, but disciplinary fragmentation has obscured their similarities. Recent work and this new journal provide opportunities for comparison and synthesis. A network of researchers is undertaking a broad survey of contentious politics in hopes of producing an intelligible map of the field, a synthesis of recent inquiries, a specification of scope conditions for the validity of available theories, and an exploration of worldwide changes in the character of contention. Discussions of 1) social movements, cycles, and revolutions, 2) collective identities and social networks, 3) social movements and institutional politics, 4) globalization and transnational contention illustrate the promise and perils of the enterprise.

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