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Regimes and Repertoires

The means by which people protest—that is, their repertoires of contention—vary radically from one political regime to the next. Highly capable undemocratic regimes such as China’s show no visible signs of popular social movements, yet produce many citizen protests against arbitrary, predatory government. Less effective and undemocratic governments like the Sudan’s, meanwhile, often experience regional insurgencies and even civil wars. In Regimes and Repertoires, Charles Tilly offers a fascinating and wide-ranging case-by-case study of various types of government and the equally various styles of protests they foster.

Using examples drawn from many areas—G8 summit and anti-globalization protests, Hindu activism in 1980s India, nineteenth-century English Chartists organizing on behalf of workers’ rights, the revolutions of 1848, and civil wars in Angola, Chechnya, and Kosovo—Tilly masterfully shows that such episodes of contentious politics unfold like loosely scripted theater. Along the way, Tilly also brings forth powerful tools to sort out the reasons why certain political regimes vary and change, how the people living under them make claims on their government, and what connections can be drawn between regime change and the character of contentious politics.


“In Regimes and Repertoires, Charles Tilly is at his inventive and wide-ranging best. Tilly takes us into the minds of rulers and rebels to examine how their opportunities and choices have shaped each others’ actions. Using a simple but powerful theory of regime types and a rich array of historical and contemporary cases, he provides fresh new explanations for the variation in modern political struggles, from peaceful protest to genocide and terrorism. This small book bursts with big ideas.”--Jack Goldstone, George Mason University

Jack Goldstone

"This book will be invaluable to any doctoral students or researchers interested in the contentious area of political and conceptual study."

Matt McCullock | H-Net Review

Table of Contents

1. What Are Regimes?
2. How Regimes Work
3. Repertoires of Contention
4. Repertoires, Meet Regimes
5. Trajectories of Change
6. Collective Violence
7. Revolutions
8. Social Movements
9. Conclusions


Social Science Research Council: Albert O. Hirschman Prize

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