Unrest or Social Movement? Some Conceptual Clarifications

  • Sebastian Haunss
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


When in 1980 and 1981 protesters in Zurich, Amsterdam, Berlin and many other cities clashed with the police and disturbed these cities’ urban routines, contemporary commentators were surprised by the intensity of the conflicts, by the number of participants and by the level of violence they often involved. Politicians, journalists and social scientists alike have been quick to label the wave of protest that emerged in several European countries, and most forcefully in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, as a ‘youth movement’,1 ‘youth protest’,2 ‘youth unrest’,3 ‘youth rebellion’4 or ‘youth revolt’.5 Usually these terms were not defined, and often authors used them interchangeably, yet always with the prefix ‘youth’. Others have precisely questioned this prefix, arguing that the issues addressed in the protest were not necessarily youth-specific, and that a significant number of the participants were too old to be labelled as youth.6


Collective Action Social Movement Social Conflict Generational Perspective Phenomenological Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Sebastian Haunss 2016

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  • Sebastian Haunss

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