August 17, 2021


The Society and Protest Workshop at the Graduate Center, CUNY, is planning four meetings in the Fall semester, 2021, on the theme of insider and outsider strategies. We are soliciting proposals for presentations and papers that address the theme, including questions such as:

  • Questioning insider/outsider distinctions in models of the polity

  • Activist decision-making about how to engage people in power

  • What does it mean to have an “insider” strategy for movements? Inside of what?

  • Can cooptation be avoided? How?

  • What larger political conditions facilitate effective insider-outsider strategies? What conditions inhibit them?

  • Can insider-outsider strategies be stable, or do they lead to coalitional or organizational fracture?

  • How do insider-outsider strategies differ from each other, or present different sets of dilemmas or choices to activists?

  • Do insider-outsider strategies professionalize movements? Do they rely on already-professionalized movements?

  • At what point do both/and insider-outsider strategies revert to either/or strategies?

To ask these questions is to get to the heart of the reformist perspectives that inform much of the scholarship on social movements, but also raise questions about the possibility of “non-reformist reforms” and the stability of strategic plurality within movements. Yet, if at least some movements seek to get people “in the door” when they normally have been shut out of decision-making made about them--but not with them--it is also the case that the metaphorical door is rarely flung wide open: a movement is likely to get a foot, or a finger, in the door at first, and the questions and dilemmas we can discuss this semester, nearly inevitably follow.

The Society and Protest Workshop was founded from the joining of two, longer-running existing workshops, the Civil Society Workshop and the Politics and Protest Workshop. Like their predecessors, they are interdisciplinary workshops that welcome contributions from students and faculty, as well as interested people not affiliated with the university, and they are open to all.

We welcome papers and proposals-in-progress that the author would like to workshop, as well as more finished projects and lectures. The format will always include at least one discussant and ample time for participation among workshop attendees. All sessions will be conducted online via Zoom. We hope to explore the possibility of publication for our contributors at the conclusion of each themed semester. 

If you are interested in contributing, please submit a paragraph abstract as well as your choice of format (paper and presentation). Once accepted, presentations should not be more than 25 minutes, with 1 hour available for discussion. Papers not to exceed 8000 words and will be shared the Friday before the week of the session. 

Send your contributions to no later than Tuesday, August 31.

If you are a Graduate Center student or faculty member interested in being involved in the steering committee or as a discussant at the Society and Protest Workshop, please also drop us a line at