The Department of Government
The Department of Government

European Democratic Contention


Fri, February 18, 2011 | UNB 3.116

9:00 AM - 4:45 PM

Spontaneity and Organization in European Democratic Contention

This workshop examines a crucial puzzle in the study of democratic contention in Europe during the 19th and early 20th century, namely what role spontaneous mass action played: Whereas theoretical assumptions embraced by many social scientists do not leave much room for spontaneity, historians have regularly observed contentious efforts that seemed to start in a spontaneous, unorganized, not centrally directed fashion. To shed light on this issue, historians and social scientists will analyze the revolutionary episodes of 1848, 1871, and 1917-19 in Western and Central Europe. In empirical terms, the workshop seeks to ascertain what role unorganized, spontaneous “crowds” played in the eruption of these protests and uprisings and in their wave-like spread in 1848 and 1917-19. In theoretical terms, the workshop will assess what factors explain these protests and their diffusion: How important were “rational” interests and cost/benefit calculations; ideas, ideologies, and cultural norms; sentiments and emotions; or cognitive shortcuts?


Participants include: Kathleen Canning (U. of Michigan), Jonathan Sperber (U of Missouri), and David Schafer (California State U.)


Friday, February 18, 2011

9:00 am –  4:45 pm

Texas Student Union, Governors’ Room (3.116)

The workshop program is attached.

For access to the papers, please contact Kurt Weyland,


Light lunch will be provided. RSVP required.

To reserve your lunch and seat at the workshop, please e-mail Sally Dickson at by 9 a.m. on Thursday, February 17.

Sponsored by: Center for European Studies and Department of Government

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    The University of Texas at Austin
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