Inequalities and Social Movements

Academic year
Subject Area
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Some knowledge on sociology is required, both epistemological an theoretical. We suggest the previous frequency of disciplines in the 1st school and 2d year of this course.


Teaching Methods

In this course classes will be organized in two parts: one is based in a theoretical and conceptual presentation, by the professor, around the main authors and issues discussed in the program; the second part is dedicated to the collective debates involving the participation of the group.

Learning Outcomes

Overall objectives

To provide  theoretical-analytical instruments needed to understand the social inequalities and social movements in contemporary societies.

Specific objectives

To consolidate knowledge produced on different forms of social inequality and the various types of social movements that have marked social change since 19th century.

Generic competencies

Students must acquire the ability to identify the central concepts related to the discussion of inequalities and socially structured differences and distinguish the different theoretical currents explaining social movements.

Specific competencies

Students of this curricular unit must acquire the following specific competencies:

- ability to read and interpret official data about inequalities;

- construction of inequalities indicators;

- identification of inequalities' structural factors;

- knowledge of the specificities of the new social movements.

Work Placement(s)



  • The concept of “social inequality”, from Marx to Max Weber;
  • A distinction between “inequality” and “difference”; inequalities as “undesirable differences”;
  • New social movements (NSMs) in the sixties and the May 68;
  • The main theoretical currents of NSMs (A. Touraine; A. Melucci; C. Offe; R. Inglehart; R. Crompton; B. Ehrenreich);
  • Global counter-hegemonic movements and the World Social Forum (Boaventura de Sousa Santos);
  • Sexual (gender) inequalities and the feminist movement (V. Ferreira);
  • New socio-labour movements and the cyberactivism (precarious, «geração à Rasca», indignants, occupy Wall street, etc);

Head Lecturer(s)

José Manuel Oliveira Mendes

Assessment Methods

Continuous Assessment
Active participation on classes, including oral presentations : 20.0%
The writing of a critical essay: 30.0%
Exam: 50.0%

Final Assessment
Exam: 100.0%


ALVAREZ, S. et al. (eds.) (2000), Cultura e Política nos Movimentos Sociais Latino-Americanos. Belo Horizonte: Ed. UFMG,  465-502.

COHEN, J. L.; A. ARATO (1992), Civil Society and Political Theory. Cambridge: MIT Press.

EDER, K. (1993), The New Politics of Class. Londres: Sage.

EYERMAN, R.; A. Jamison (1991), Social Movements. A Cognitive Approach. Cambridge: Polity Press

GOODWIN, J.; JASPERS, M. (Eds.) (2003), Social Movements Reader: Cases and Concepts. Malden/MA: Blackwell.

MELUCCI, A. (1998), Nomads of the Present. London: Hutchinson.

SANTOS, B.  (2005), Fórum Social Mundial: Manual de Uso. Porto: Afrontamento.

THERBORN, G. (ed.) (2006), Inequalities of the World. London: Verso.

TOURAINE, A. (2006), “Na fronteira dos movimentos sociais”, Sociedade e Estado, 21(1), 17-28.

VRADIS, A.; D. DALAKOGLOU (eds.) (2011), Revolt and Crisis in Greece: between a Present Yet to Pass and a Future Still to Come. London: AK Press & Occupied London