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York University

Department of Sociology

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

GS/SOCI 4220 3.0 (W) - M

Social Movements: Theory and Practice

Winter 2017

Course Syllabus

Course Director: Marcello Musto

Class Time: Tuesday 14:30 - 17:30

Class Location: Ross Bldg. S 102

Office Hours: Tuesday 17:30 - 18:30

Office Location: Ross Bldg. N833A

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Unit Description

This course deals with the developments of some of the most significant international social movements from the end of Ancien Régime to the fall of Berlin Wall (1789-1989). These include social movements that were formed around the French Revolution, the Revolutions of 1848, the Paris Commune, the birth of Soviet Union, the Chinese Revolution, the anticolonialist movement, and the protests of 1968. These movements will be critically analysed, both in terms of history of ideas and of their major socio-political characteristics.

Course Requirements and Evaluation

Class Participation




Final Exam


Class Participation:

This course is taught in weekly seminars lasting 2 hours and 50 minutes. Attendance and informed participation at all class meetings is not only strongly recommended, but required. Students are expected to attend class regularly, complete the assignment readings on time and participate actively in class discussion. Participation will be marked for attendance and quality of participation.


Each class will begin with a student presentation (between 25 and 30 minutes) on the assigned readings. Presenters should provide a 2 page summary (by photocopy) of her/his presentation for other students.

A good presentation is very important to stimulate discussion. Therefore, please avoid just reading from a paper, and try to present ideas and raise questions for the engagement of others. Presentations should:

-give all the pertinent biographical information about the author(s) and the historical context in which the assigned texts were written;

-reconstruct the argument of the author(s), and provide an overview of the assigned readings;

-identify the key questions for discussion, and the controversies implied by the material;

-critically analyze the texts (for example: what are the limitations of the position expressed in the readings?);

-identify anything you found unclear or hard to understand;

-conclude with three discussion questions for the group to consider.

Final Exam :

A final exam will be held on April 6, at the regular class time and place. The exam will last 120 minutes and it will consist of answering to 6 questions (out of 9) drawn from the readings assigned during the course.

The first three questions will be related to French Revolution, Russian Revolution and 1968 Movement, while the last 3 questions (out of 6), to which students will have to respond, will be focused on the other readings (more detailed information about the exam and the kind of questions of the exam will be given during the course).


Mid-term class participation and presentation (if already done) marks will be available by email or by appointment the week of 16 February.

Schedule of Classes and Readings

Week 1 – 10 January: French Revolution

Recommended Readings:

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution 1789-1848, Chapters 1, 2 and maps, pp. 7-52 and 309-320.


Week 2 – 17 January: From 1789 to the Revolutions of 1848

Required Readings:

George Rudé, The Crowd in the French Revolution, in particular Part III: "The Anatomy of the Revolutionary Crowd", pp. 178-239.

Additional Readings:

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, Chapter I: "The Three Anticapitalistic Movements", (sections 1-5), Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1959, pp. 21-59.

William Sewell, Work & Revolution in France, Cambridge: CUP, 1980, Chapter 9: "The July Revolution and the Emergence of Class Consciousness", pp. 194-218; and Chapter 11: "The Revolution of 1848", pp. 243-276.

Roger Magraw, "Socialism, Syndicalism and French Labour before 1914", in Dick Geary, Labour and Socialist Movements in Europe before 1914, New York: Berg, 1989, pp. 48-100.

George D. H. Cole's, A History of Socialist Thought, Vol. I (The Forerunners 1789-1850) , Chapter I: "The Great French Revolution and the Conspiracy of Gracchus Babeuf", pp. 11-22.


Pamela Pilbeam, French Socialists before Marx: Workers, Women, and the Social Question in France . Teddington: Acumen 2000, in particular Chapter 8: "Worker Associations before 1848".

Eric Hazan, A History of the Barricade, London: Verso, 2015.

Week 3 – 24 January: Paris Commune

Required Readings:

Donny Gluckstein, The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy, Chapter 1: "The Commune's Achievements", pp. 1-42.


Additional Materials:

Karl Marx, The Civil War in France, in Marcello Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Chapters 46 and 65).


Kristin Ross, Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune, London: Verso, 2015.

Peter Watkins, La commune (Paris, 1871), France, 345 min.

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KIvQ1nUdIs&ab_channel=Chve

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rI-UFKiOvg&ab_channel=Chve

Prosper Olivier Lissagaray, History of the Paris Commune of 1871 [1876], London: Verso.


Marcello Musto, “Introduction”, in Id. (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Editor), London–New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 1-68.


Week 4 – 31 January: The Narodniks and Populism in Russia

Required Readings:

Franco Venturi , Roots Of Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth Century Russia , New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960 (excerpts TBA).


Additional Readings:

Vera Zasulich - Karl Marx, "Letters on Social Relations in Russia"


Andrzey Walichi, The Controversy over Capitalism, Oxford: OUP, 1969.

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What Is to Be Done?, Cornell: Cornell University Press , 1989.

Teodor Shanin (Ed.), Late Marx and the Russian Road, Marx and the ‘peripheries of capitalism’ , New Tork: Monthy Reivew Press, 1983.

Lenin, The Heritage We Renounce


James H. Billington, Mikhailovsky and Russian populism , Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958.

Richard Wortman, The crisis of Russian populism , London: CUP, 1967.

Arthur P. Mendel, Dilemmas of progress in tsarist Russia: Legal Marxism and legal Populism , Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961.

Andrzej Walicki, A History of Russian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Marxism, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979.

Week 5 – 7 February: Russian Revolution I: the Soviets

Required Readings:

Rex A. Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917, Cambridge: CUP, 2005, Chapter 4: "The Aspirations of Russian Society", pp. 88-129.

Additional Readings:

Rex A. Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917, Cambridge: CUP, 2005, Chapter 5 "The Peasants and the Purpose of Revolution", pp. 129-145.

Victor Serge, Year One of the Russian Revolution, in particular Chapter 1: "From Serfdom to Proletarian Revolution", Chapter 2: "The Insurrection of 25 October 1917", and Chapter 3: "The Urban Middle Classes against the Proletariat".


Maurice Brinton, The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control: The State and Counter-Revolution


Lenin, All the Power to the Soviets!


Lenin, State and Revolution (1918)


Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1932, Oxford: OUP, 1984.

John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World


Tamás Krausz, Reconstructing Lenin, New York: Monthly Review, 2015.

Week 6 – 14 February: Russian Revolution II: Workers' Control or Party-State Rule?

Required Readings:

Lynne Viola (Ed.), Contending with Stalinism: Soviet Power and Popular Resistance in the 1930s , Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002, pp. 1-43.

Additional Readings:

E. H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution (3 voll.), New York: Penguin, 1950.

Ronald Suny, The Soviet Experiment, Oxford: OUP, 2011.

Paul Mattick, Workers’ Control (1967), Section 3.


Paresh Chattopadhyay, 'The Failure of Twentieth-Century Socialism and Marx’s Continuing Relevance', Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 24, n. 3 (2010), pp. 23-45.

Week 7 – 28 February: Councils Movement

Required Readings:

Pierre Broué, The German Revolution, 1917-1923, London: Merlin Press, 2006, Chapter 1: 1-10, Chapter 7: pp. 89-110, Chapter 8: 129-155.

Additional Readings:

Gabriel Kuhn (Ed.), All the Power to the Councils: A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918-1919 , Oakland: PM Press, 2012, in particular: Ernst Daeumig, "The Council Idea and Its Realization", pp. 51-58.


Rosa Luxemburg, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions (1906) (sections 4 and 6-8).


Antonio Gramsci, "The Turin factory council movement" (1921).


Ralf Hoffrogge, Working-Class Politics in the German Revolution, Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Gwyn A. Williams, Proletarian Order: Antonio Gramsci, Factory Councils and the Origins of Communism in Italy, 1911-1921 , London: PLuto Press, 1975.

Marcel van der Linden, "On Council Communism", in Historical Materialism, vol. 12 (2004), n. 4.


Anton Pannekoek, Workers' Councils (1946)


Rosa Luxemburg, "The Socialisation of Society" (1918).


Lelio Basso, Rosa Luxemburg: A Reappraisal, London: Deutsch 1975.

Paul Mattick, Anti-Bolshevik Communism, London: Merlin 1978.


Week 8 – 7 March: Spanish Revolution

Required Readings:

Eddie Conlon, The Spanish Civil War: Anarchism in Action, Workers' Solidarity Movement, 1986 (extracts).


Deirdre Hogan, Industrial Collectivisation during the Spanish Revolution


Additional Materials:

Ken Loach, Land and Freedom, UK - Spain, 109 min.


Pierre Broue - Emile Temime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain , Chapter 4: "Pronunciamiento and Revolution", pp. 93-120, Chapter 5: "The Revolutionary Gains", pp. 121-149.

Lose Peirats, The CNT in the Spanish Revolution, Volume 1, Chapter 8: "Spain in flames".


Karl Korsch, Collectivization in Spain (1939)


Gaston Leval, Collectives in the Spanish revolution


Michael Seidman, Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War 


Lose Peirats, Anarchists In The Spanish Revolution


George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

Week 9 – 14 March: Chinese Communist Revolution

Required Readings:


Additional Readings:

Edward Friedman, Backward Toward Revolution, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

Jean Chesneaux, Peasant Revolts in China, 1840-1949, pp. 101-120, 150-166.

Harold R. Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution (1938).


Week 10 – 21 March: Anti-colonial Movements: The Case of Algeria

Required Readings:

Alistair Horne, A savage war of peace: Algeria, 1954-1962 , London: Macmillan, 1977 (extracts TBA).

Additional Materials:

Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers, Italy - Algeria, 120 min.


Joan Gillespie, Algeria: Rebellion and Revolution, Westport: Greenwood Press, 1960, Chapter 9: "The Revolutionary Years", pp. 112-179.

Franz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, New York: Grove Press, 1959.


Ernesto Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental (1967)

Week 11 – 28 March: Paris 1968: We Want Everything!

Required Readings:

1968: - a chronology of events in France and internationally


Daniel Singer, Prelude to Revolution (1970), Cambridge: South End Press, pp. 115-151.

Additional Materials:

Alain Schnapp - Pierre Vidal-Naquet, The French Student Uprising, November 1967-June 1968: An Analytical Record , Boston: Beacon Press, 1971, in particular pp. 147-240 and 325-372.

Paris 1968 posters


Vv. Aa., May-June 1968 - A Situation Lacking in Workers' Autonomy


Christine Fauré, Mai 68, Paris: Gallimard, 1998.

Michael M. Seidman, The Imaginary Revolution: Parisian Students and Workers in 1968, New York: Berghahn Books, Chap. 1 "Sex, Drugs, and Revolution", pp. 17-52.


Obsolete communism: The left wing alternative - Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit


Tom Nairn and Angelo Quattrocchi, The Beginning of the End: France, May 1968, London: Verso.

General Strike: France 1968 - A factory by factory account


M. Klimke - J. Scharloth (Eds.), 1968 in Europe: A History of Protest and Activism, 1956–1977, London: Palgrave, 2008.

Kristin Ross, May '68 and Its Afterlives, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Tariq Ali - Susan Watkins (Eds), 1968: Marching in the Streets

Margaret Atack, May 68 in French Fiction & Film, Oxford: OUP, 1999.

Week 12 – 4 April: Final Exam