European Studies Logo

Workshop: "Spontaneity and Organization in European Democratic Contention"

Thu, February 10, 2011

This workshop sponsored by the Center for European Studies examines a crucial puzzle in the study of democratic contention in Europe during the 19th and early 20th century, namely what role spontaneous mass action played: Whereas theoretical assumptions embraced by many social scientists do not leave much room for spontaneity, historians have regularly observed contentious efforts that seemed to start in a spontaneous, unorganized, not centrally directed fashion. To shed light on this issue, historians and social scientists will analyze the revolutionary episodes of 1848, 1871, and 1917-19 in Western and Central Europe. In empirical terms, the workshop seeks to ascertain what role unorganized, spontaneous “crowds” played in the eruption of these protests and uprisings and in their wave-like spread in 1848 and 1917-19. In theoretical terms, the workshop will assess what factors explain these protests and their diffusion: How important were “rational” interests and cost/benefit calculations; ideas, ideologies, and cultural norms; sentiments and emotions; or cognitive shortcuts?

The workshop will be held on Friday, February 18, 2011, 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, in the Texas Student Union, Governors' Room (3.116)

A light lunch will be served. Pleas RSVP for lunch and seat at the workshop to Sally Dickson at

Click here for more information about the workshop and a full schedule.

Bookmark and Share

  • Center for European Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st Street
    Austin, Texas 78712