Research Project 5: No Alternative? Social Protest in the Alter-Globalisation Movement between Opposition and Dissidence

No contemporary protest movement against international institutions has achieved a media profile comparable to the alter-globalisation movement. Its protests have repeatedly accompanied World Economic Forums and international summits since the 1999 “Battle of Seattle”, whose influence remains strong in current demonstrations. This reveals a radical contradiction in parts of transnational civil society directed against international institutions and the norms they embody. The movement is hardly monolithic in its aims and strategies despite broad consensus against neoliberal and capitalist globalisation. This is reflected in the diversity of the groups’ positions towards national and international political structures. While some groups pursue their goals in the context of established institutional channels of political participation, others deliberately violate the prevailing rules about how to exert political influence up to and including (sporadic) violence. This sub-project compares various groups in the movement to identify factors that promote the transformation of protest into dissidence and back by looking at the groups’ development (from opposition into peaceful dissidence up to violent dissidence and vice versa). This should also allow a more refined consideration of the social significance of dissident movements in contemporary democracies.


Project funded by the German Research Foundation.

Researchers in this project:

Nicole Deitelhoff | Felix Anderl | Priska Daphi