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Sidney G. Tarrow (?-present) is a professor of political science and sociology, known for his research in the areas of comparative politics, social movements, political parties, collective action and political sociology.



B.A. Syracuse University, 1960, American Studies; M.A. Columbia University, 1961, Public Law and Government; Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1965, Political Science.

He is currently Maxwell Upson Professor of Government and Sociology at Cornell University.


Tarrow's first area of interest was the study of communism in the 1960s. In the 1970s he moved to the study of comparative local politics and in the 1980s to the study of social movements and protest cycles (or 'cycles of contention'). A specialist in European politics and society, Sidney Tarrow has written widely on Italian and French politics, centre-periphery relations, new social movements, and contentious politics. Tarrow is a leading expert on new social movements and, more broadly, the phenomena of contentious behaviour.

His 1998 book Power in Movement analyses the cultural, organizational and personal sources of social movements' power, emphasizing the rise and fall of social movements as part of political struggle and as the outcome of changes in political opportunity structures. His list of five political opportunity structures includes: increasing access, shifting alignments, divided elites, influential allies and repression and facilitation. Tarrow writes that unlike political or economic social institutions, social movements have an elusive power, but one that is no less real. Tarrow puts forward a theory of collective action to explain the cyclical history of social movements (visible in the form of the protest cycles), and offers an interpretation of the power of movement that emphasizes its effects on personal lives, policy reforms and political culture. In that book he also lists four prerequisites of sustainable social movements: 1) political opportunities, 2) diffuse social networks, 3) familiar forms of collective action (aka Tilly's repertoires of contention), and 4) cultural frames that can resonate throughout a population.

In 2001, Tarrow, with Doug McAdam and Charles Tilly, published Dynamics of Contention (Cambridge 2001), in which the authors broadened the social movement framework to cover a broader spectrum of forms of contention. This was followed by Tarrow's New Transnational Activism (Cambridge 2005), in which he applied the framework to the new transnational cycle of contention, and by a textbook with Tilly called Contentious Politics (Paradigm, 2006). He is currently working on international human rights.


Selected Publications:

  • Peasant Communism in Southern Italy, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1967; (revised and translated as Partito comunista e contadini nel Mezzogiorno, Turin: Giulio Einaudi, ed., 1972).
  • Between Center and Periphery: Grassroots Politicians in Italy and France, Yale University Press, 1977; (translated as Tra centro e periferia, Il Mulino, 1979).
  • Democracy and Disorder, Oxford University Press, 1989 (revised and translated as Democrazia e disordine, Laterza, 1990).
  • Power in Movement: Collective Action, Social Movements and Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1994. (Spanish trans.: El Poder en Movimiento, Alianza, 1998; revised as Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  • The New Transnational Activism, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • (with Bert Klandermans and Hanspeter Kriesi, eds.) From Structure to Action: Comparing Social Movement Research Across Cultures, International Social Movement Research I, (JAI Press, 1988).
  • (with David S. Meyer) The Social Movement Society: Contentious Politics for a New Century. Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.
  • (with Doug Imig) Contentious Europeans: Protest and Politics in a Europeanizing Polity. Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.
  • (with Doug McAdam and Charles Tilly) Dynamics of Contention. Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • (with Ron Aminzade, et al.) Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics. Cambridge U. Press, 2001.
  • (with Donatella della Porta) Transnational Protest and Global Activism, Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.

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