Claim "radicalization?" The 1989 protest cycle in the GDR

Carol Mueller

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22 Scopus citations


While commonly observed, the process of claim transformation or, as it is sometimes called, "claim radicalization," is seldom described or explained systematically in contemporary social movement theory. In this article, I describe claim transformation in the 1989 protest cycle of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) following the most systematic model available, Tarrow's analysis of the 1965-1975 Italian cycle. Despite the aptness of Tarrow's (1989b) categories for analyzing claims, the lack of fit between a model developed from protest cycles in democratic systems and that of a disintegrating Leninist regime are readily apparent. The sharp contrast between the two offers an opportunity to explore different uses of the "radical" family of concepts and the implications for protest cycles and claim radicalization of the constraints posed by authoritarian regimes. Following earlier examples of protest event analysis, I rely primarily on coded data from two West German newspapers, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung (FAZ). Data on event participation, violence, and arrests are a composite from these and four English language papers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-547
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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