Historians and the Study of Protest

Brian Dill, Ronald Aminzade

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we reflect on the distinctive ways in which historians have contributed to our understanding of social movements and collective action. We find that historians interrogate the historical record in at least one of three ways. First, historians characterize their task as interpretative; that is, they attempt to establish not only the “actuality” of an event by constructing a textual account of it, but also its meaning by providing a detailed description of its causes, scope, and outcomes, as well as of the parties involved, their motives, and their accomplishments. A second approach is expansive. Scholars working in this vein seek to augment the historical record with respect to established events, legitimating their particular contribution to the literature by showing how it fills a gap or omission. Third, historians of social movements and collective action portray their narrative accounts of particular events as corrective. This often involves providing an interpretation that challenges the official or established view of an event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Social Movements Across Disciplines
EditorsConny Roggeband, Bert Klandermans
Number of pages43
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-57648-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-57647-3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
ISSN (Print)1389-6903
ISSN (Electronic)2542-839X


  • Core concepts
  • Corrective
  • Disciplinary boundaries
  • Expansive
  • Historians
  • Interpretive
  • Social movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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