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Power and Protest

Power and Protest

In a democracy, power is supposed to rest with the people.  Decisions are usually made by politicians, elected on their behalf.  But citizens have the power to remove politicians from office to ensure that they come first.

In the international system, in contrast, power is often thought to lie with a small number of influential countries who dominate global outcomes. As Thucydides famously argued - 'the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must'.
 
Power, however, is never permanent or unchallenged, as we have seen in such disparate events as the 9/11 attacks, the so-called 'Arab Spring' uprisings, and global protest movements from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo. Many countries have seen declining levels of satisfaction with politicians, who are seen as ‘out of touch’ with ordinary people or part of the ‘political class’.  Some have even claimed that unelected international organisations or multinational companies have more power than the ordinary citizen today. Balances of power in the global system, too, are never settled: empires collapse, great powers rise and fall, and new challengers emerge to disrupt the status quo.
 
In this participatory one-day workshop, we will explore key questions around where power comes from, how it operates at different levels from the street, to civil society, to the state and beyond. Students will be given core concepts used to understand the Arab Spring. They can choose to focus on social media, the international system or the clash of ideologies. They will then be tasked with applying these concepts in a simulation of a fictional post-revolutionary state. Tasked with representing one of the key groups involved in the revolution, students will collective shape the society that emerges from the embers of revolution and decide on the sort of state that will be necessary to support it.

This is a creative way to address the questions that are central to studying politics or international relations at A level and university - and, indeed, central to thinking about politics as citizens in the world today. We’ll consider what strategies are available to citizens who might want better health care, are interested in human rights, who want to tackle climate change, or who care about the problems of national security.

Event information

  • 09.00am - 15.00pm Wednesday 7 November 2018
  • Lunch and refreshments provided
  • Individual bookings and School bookings welcome
  • View Provisional Programme

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