Long-Term Capitalist Dynamics and Protest Waves in the Global Periphery: A Critical Reappraisal of Business Cycles

Chungse Jung, SUNY Cortland

Social movement studies have been criticized for having short attention to long-term transformations. This criticism leads to bring consideration of capitalist dynamics such as Kondratieff waves (K-waves) back into social movement studies. However, the claims of the relation between social movements and K-waves have been strongly influenced by the choice of the geographical and historical points of reference as well as the theme and scale of movements. I explore the relationship between long-term capitalist dynamics and the protest waves in the global Periphery over the long twentieth century. Indeed, empirical examination between the protest waves in the global Periphery generating from protest event records in the New York Times and K-waves shows there is no significant coincidence between two different kinds of waves. Rather than other business cycles, I suggest using the long-term movement of the rate of profit in the U.S. economy as an indicator of capitalist dynamics to shed light on the rise and fall of the protest waves in the global Periphery. My empirical research shows the movement of the profit rate, the profit share, and capital productivity in the U.S. economy are more linked to changing the conditions for political participation such as popular protests produce adaptation in the capitalism of the global Periphery.

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 Presented in Session 14. Violence, Contention, and Warfare