The politics of protest: Ethics, strategies, and problems (Years 12 and 13)

University of Birmingham
Wednesday 8 February 2023 (13:00-15:00)

Class capacity: 35

Year group: 12 and 13

Subject: Political Theory

Attendee requirements: None

About: This masterclass will look at theories of civil disobedience as well as cases of "successful" protest, both historical and contemporary. Potential case studies include the sit-in movement led by SNCC in the US South during the 1960s, hunger strikes in the Northern Irish prisons during the Troubles, and contemporary efforts by Just Stop Oil protestors to disrupt the supply chains of natural gas in the UK.

During the discussion, students will look at how political theorists conceptualised the purpose, aims and ethical limits of protest, with a specific focus on acts of civil disobedience. We will also consider short selections from activist interviews, statements, and videos to better frame how protestors saw their own political agency and what they hoped to achieve.

After contrasting academic views of dissensual politics with activists' perspectives, students will break out into small groups to design a civil disobedience or protest campaign to further causes of their choosing. The small groups will be asked to consider the ethical import of their action, the risks that it poses for protestors and third parties, and the objectives that they hope to achieve with their campaign. The masterclass will close by having each group present their proposed course of action to the class. 

Additional information: Schools will be limited to 10 places for this class. Individual bookings can be made by students in Years 12 and 13.

To find out more about any of the masterclasses, please email

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