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The Language of Contention
Revolutions in Words, 1688–2012

$20.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics

  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107693289

$ 20.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • This book examines the relations between the material and political bases of contentious politics and the construction, diffusion, and endurance of contentious language. Beginning with the language of revolution developed from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, it examines contentious language at work, in gender and race relations and in nationalist and ethnic movements. It closes with an examination of emotions in contentious politics, reflecting on the changes in political language since 9/11 and assessing the impact of religion and recent innovations in electronic communication on the language of politics.

    • Combines ethnographic and systematic methods of analysis
    • Based on historical and contemporary, American and European evidence and is illustrated by tables, maps and graphics
    • Accessible writing style
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “Classism, racism, sexism. Words, words, words? Revolutions, protests, riots - more words? That master of contentious politics, Sid Tarrow, examines how language constructs (empowers and unites) and deconstructs (disempowers and divides) actors. Using word counts and ethnography, his positivist constructivism connects words to actions as well as to historical structural contexts. Exploring cognitions, emotions, and meanings, Tarrow’s rich analyses demonstrate how language endures through time and diffuses through populations via mechanisms of symbolic resonance and processes of strategic modularity.”
    Mark I. Lichbach, University of Maryland

    “Sid Tarrow’s great genius is the capacity to see connections that others miss. He has done it for decades and does it again here, brilliantly showing us that the language of contentious politics is a tireless traveler across space and time. But as those who wander know well, the journey can change the voyager as much as the land where she alights. And thanks to Professor Tarrow, we now understand how it all happens.”
    Joseph Margulies, Northwestern University School of Law

    “An immensely wide-ranging, provocative examination of contentious words in motion by one of our foremost experts on comparative politics, The Language of Contention is a fitting capstone to Sidney Tarrow’s distinguished career.”
    Daniel T. Rodgers, Henry Charles Lea Professor, Emeritus, Princeton University

    “In this engaging work, Sidney Tarrow, long a preeminent analyst of contentious politics, turns to contentious language – exploring shifting terminologies of race, class, gender, citizenship, and more, in many times and places. He makes a compelling case that politics cannot be understood without grasping how, symbolically and strategically, words stigmatize, valorize, divide, unite, and inspire political actors and action.”
    Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Stories of Peoplehood: The Politics and Morals of Political Membership(Cambridge, 2003)

    “A dazzling contribution by a master of the study of contentious politics, The Language of Contention takes us on a journey from the seventeenth century to the present to demonstrate the power of contentious language in social and political change. Drawing on an extraordinary range of revolutionary, nationalist, and ethnic movements as well as movements mobilized around gender, race, and sexuality, Tarrow adds an important cultural dimension to his concept of ‘cycles of contention’ by showing us that, indeed, words matter.”
    Verta Taylor, University of California Santa Barbara

    "In The Language of Contention, Sidney Tarrow steps back to explain historical changes and continuities in the language that inspires and encapsulates those contentious episodes … Beyond its refreshing historical scope, Tarrow’s framework may help to reconcile a paradigm split within social movement studies, where the long-dominant school takes an instrumentalist approach to organizational strategies and outcomes, while more recent challengers have argued that movements are more centrally about the spread of ideas and cultural change."
    W. Lance Bennett, Perspectives on Politics

    "This is an immensely rewarding book. It tackles the issues that are at the center of cultural turn in the study of contentious politics, as it provides a systematic overview of words people employ to explain to themselves and to others what it is they are doing when they are challenging power holders."
    Jan Kubic, Mobilization

    'This fascinating book by the distinguished Sidney Tarrow offers a comprehensive study of language to the literature on contentious politics and social movements and should compel scholars of these fields to consider the importance of language in their future work.' James Buchanan, Social Movement Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107693289
    • length: 262 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus. 5 maps 9 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Repertoires of contentious language
    2. Revolutions in words
    3. Words at work
    4. Race and rights talk
    5. Gender words
    6. Citizens and nations
    7. Love and hatred
    8. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Sidney Tarrow, Cornell University, New York
    Sidney Tarrow is Maxwell M. Upson Professor Emeritus of Government at Cornell University and a visiting professor at Cornell University Law School. His recent books include a collection of essays, Strangers at the Gates: States and Social Movements in Contentious Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and a revised and expanded edition of Power in Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and past president of the Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. He is currently completing a book on states, wars and movements.

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