Protesting Culture and Economics in Western Europe: New Cleavages in Left and Right Politics.

Protesting Culture and Economics in Western Europe: New Cleavages in Left and Right Politics.

Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

reviewed in Czech Sociological Review, Contemporary Sociology, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Social Forces, Mobilization, International Social Science Review, and West European Politics

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In this far-reaching work, Swen Hutter demonstrates the usefulness of studying both electoral politics and protest politics to better understand the impacts of globalization. Hutter integrates research on cleavage politics and populist parties in Western Europe with research on social movements. He shows how major new cleavages restructured protest politics over a thirty-year period, from the 1970s through the 1990s. This major study brings back the concept of cleavages to social movement studies and connects the field with contemporary research on populism, electoral behavior, and party politics.

Hutter’s work extends the landmark 1995 New Social Movements in Western Europe, the book that spurred the recognition that a broad empirical frame is valuable for understanding powerful social movements. This new book shows that it is also beneficial to include the study of political parties and protest politics. While making extensive use of public opinion, protest event, and election campaigning data, Hutter skillfully employs contemporary data from six West European societies—Austria, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland—to account for responses to protest events and political issues across countries.

Protesting Culture and Economics in Western Europe makes productive empirical, methodological, and theoretical contributions to the study of social movements and comparative politics. Empirically, it employs a new approach, along with new data, to explain changes in European politics over several decades. Methodologically, it makes rigorous yet creative use of diverse datasets in innovative ways, particularly across national borders. And theoretically, it makes a strong claim for considering the distinctive politics of protest across various issue domains as it investigates the asymmetrical politics of protest from left and right.


Taking us on a fascinating journey through more than thirty years of social movement mobilization, Protesting Culture and Economics in Western Europe offers the first systematic attempt to link the study of the movements of the left and right in Europe since the 1970s with party system dynamics. Building on a unique set of data that allows for the comparison of different issues across the electoral and protest arenas, this study not only contributes to our understanding of ‘who is organized into politics by whom,’ it also provides some definite answers to controversial questions surrounding social movements in the ‘age of globalization,’ and shows how much we gain by focusing on the interplay between electoral and protest politics.

Simon Bornschier, University of Zurich


This is very relevant work that addresses a broad array of issues in social movement studies. The data are impressive and innovative, comparative across six countries and several decades, and Swen Hutter’s analyses are strong, original, and straightforward.

Stefaan Walgrave, University of Antwerp