When George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police in 2020, up to 26 million people took to the streets in response. That year, Black Lives Matter protests were held all over the world and these have shaped politics since. But similar immense and spontaneous mass mobilizations have shaped societies throughout world history. Alongside 2020’s Black Lives Uprising, these include the 2011 Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and even the 1789 French Revolution.

In the lecture ‘Why do we protest?‘, dr. Benjamin Abrams will talk about how mass risings took place in the past and what we can learn to understand more about today’s protests, drawing on his forthcoming book The Rise of the Masses in which he builds a new theory of spontaneous protest.

Dr. Benjamin Abrams is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Sociology at University College London and is an expert in the study of political processes in democratic and authoritarian societies. His research primarily explores revolutions, resistance movements and mass mobilization. He is the author of two books: The Rise of the Masses: Spontaneous Mobilization and Contentious Politics (2023), and Symbolic Objects in Contentious Politics (2023, with Peter R. Gardner). Abrams is also Chief Editor of Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest (with Giovanni A. Travaglino).

More information:

  • Date: Tuesday 25 April 2023
  • Time: 16:00-17:30 hrs. (walk-in: 15:50 hrs.)
  • Location: T3-02, Mandeville Building
  • Moderation: Victoria Balan (PhD-candidate at ESHCC)
  • Entrance: Free


This programme is organized by Studium Generale in cooperation with Amnesty International Students Rotterdam (AISR).