Tarrow, Sidney G. 1938-

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TARROW, Sidney G. 1938-

PERSONAL: Born November 3, 1938, in New York, NY; son of Morris and Annette Tarrow; married Susan Fellows, 1965; children: Sarah Anne, Christopher Morris. Education: University of California—Berkeley, Ph.D., 1965.

ADDRESSES: Home—129 Burleigh Dr., Ithaca, NY 14850. Office—Cornell University, Department of Government, Ithaca, NY 14853. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Currently Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government and professor of sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

MEMBER: American Political Science Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, ASA, European Consortium of Political Research, European Community Studies Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships from Guggenheim Foundation, Ford Foundation, German Marshall Fund, Fulbright Foundation, and Russell Sage Foundation.


Peasant Communism in Southern Italy, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1967.

(With Fred I. Greenstein) Political Orientations of Children; The Use of a Semi-projective Technique in Three Nations, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1970.

Partisanship and Political Exchange in French and Italian Local Politics: A Contribution to the Typology of Party Systems, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1974.

(Editor, with Donald L. M. Blackmer) Communism in Italy and France, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1975.

Between Center and Periphery: Grassroots Politicians in Italy and France, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1977.

(Editor, with Peter J. Katzenstein and Luigi Graziano) Territorial Politics in Industrial Nations, Praeger (New York, NY), 1978.

(Editor, with Peter Lange) Italy in Transition: Conflict and Consensus, Cass (Ottawa, NJ), 1980.

Democracy and Disorder: Protest and Politics in Italy, 1965-1975, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Struggle, Politics, and Reform: Collective Action, Social Movements, and Cycles of Protest, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1989.

(Editor, with Peter J. Katzenstein and Theodore Lowi) Comparative Theory and Political Experience: Mario Einaudi and the Liberal Tradition, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1990.

Power in Movement: Social Movements, Collective Action, and Politics, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1994, published as Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

(Coeditor, with David S. Meyer) The Social Movement Society: Contentious Politics for a New Century, Rowman and Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1998.

(Coeditor, with Doug Imig) Contentious Europeans: Protest and Politics in an Emerging Polity, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2001.

(Coauthor, with Douglas McAdam and Charles Tilly) Dynamics of Contention, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

(Coeditor, with Donnatella della Porta) Transnational Protest and Global Activism, Rowman & Little-field (Lanham, MD), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Sidney G. Tarrow's long and illustrious career as a political science educator and scholar of social movements began in the 1960s, with the publication of his doctoral thesis Peasant Communism in Southern Italy. Reviewers admired the book for the thoroughness of its background, the clarity of its methodology, and the incisiveness of its analysis, no mean feats for a recent graduate. Denis Mack Smith, in the New York Review of Books, noted that Tarrow "shows how the structures and tactics of Communism in the peasant south of Italy depart radically from patterns familiar in the industrial north." Tarrow's book received a more polemical response in the New Statesman, where Jon Halliday complained of Tarrow's "insist[ence] on approaching [his] subject through the jaundiced undergrowth of bourgeois political theory." But he admired Tarrow's "astonishing clarity," adding that "this is a very important book which goes right to the heart of the absolutely basic problems of class, ideology, political education and organization facing the PCI throughout Italy."

Tarrow's next book to receive substantial notice was Between Center and Periphery: Grassroots Politicians in Italy and France, published in 1977. This work is based largely on long interviews with nearly 250 mayors from towns numbering less than 50,000 in four separate areas of each country, as well as on what a Choice reviewer called "aggregate data on the social, economic, electoral, and budgetary records of their municipalities." Tarrow's main argument here is that "grassroots politicians and the mechanisms of local national linkages they manipulate are crucial intervening variables between the economic marginality that marks much of the periphery in advanced societies and its ability to hold its own in the competition for resources at the center." According to John A. Armstrong of the University of Wisconson—Madison, in Political Science Quarterly, "Interview data, both coded and open-ended response form, is skillfully interwoven with aggregate data on the political environments." By comparing data for the two countries, Tarrow was able to make generalizations for both, including the observation that "to citizens at the periphery the ideological drama at the top may seem like a fresco of baroque armies locked in futile combat above a stage in which the low comedy of political exchange is being played."

Between Center and Periphery was well received in academic and library reference journals. Armstrong wrote that "Sidney Tarrow's book is an impressive sign that behavioral science research has matured sufficiently to provide profound analyses of formally centralized systems." Armstrong's main critique of the book was that the situations Tarrow describes are so complex as to be difficult to summarize or draw generalizations from; but he noted too that "not the least of Sidney Tarrow's exceptional merits is that, while by no means timid in expressing his views, he is completely honest in presenting critical data that may suggest other conclusions." In the Journal of Politics, Robert H. Evans of the University of Virginia called Between Center and Periphery "a solid and challenging book, seven years in the works" and commented that "the book is well written with jargon' kept under reign and is enlivened by a discreet use of quotations from the interviews." Evans summed the book up as a "carefully conceived and pioneering study" in comparative politics.

Tarrow's next book was an editing collaboration with two other scholars titled Territorial Politics in Industrial Nations. A critic in Choice pointed out that it was a project in "observing center/periphery tensions" that came out of the Cornell University International Program. Tarrow introduced the book of essays in these words: "It is through the territorial units they live in that men (sic) organize their relations with the state, reconcile or fight out conflicts of interest, and attempt to adapt politically to wider social pressures." Case studies included areas of France, Poland, Israel, Australia, and Italy, and, in the United States, New York and Boston. A reviewer in Choice called it a "fine supplementary source containing recent information from the respective urban-industrial areas."

In 1989 Tarrow came out with the widely reviewed and acclaimed Democracy and Disorder: Protest and Politics in Italy, 1965-1975. This work brought in some of his earlier work on Italy, where the Europe-wide protests of the 1960s were quite severe, as well as new data and sources. According to Leonard Weinberg, who reviewed the book for the American Political Science Review, "Much of the book is focused on the diffusion of protest activity from one group to another—students to workers to white collar employees, and so on—as the [protest] cycle escalated and what the author refers to as the 'social movement center' expanded." Alice Kelikian noted in the Times Literary Supplement that Tarrow describes how "ordinary people participated increasingly in the collective action that came to characterize politics in the peninsula until 1972, when disruptiveness declined." Weinberg reported that, in Tarrow's view, this decline was due to the increasingly high costs placed on protestors by the "repressive apparatus of the state."

Weinberg's main critique of the book was that "by treating the cycle almost as a ballet of discontent that began in the mid-1960s and ended in the early 1970s, the author underestimates the extent to which mass protest has been a continuing feature of Italian politics in the postwar era." Nonetheless, Weinberg valued Democracy and Disorder: Protest and Politics in Italy, 1965-1975 highly "if for no other reason" than that it "carefully chronicles and analyzes what may later come to be regarded as the last significant attempt to make a Marxist revolution in Western Europe."

One unusual element of Tarrow's argument, as noted by Kelikian, was to "keep the issues of student radicalism and political extremism separate," unlike the arguments of other scholars who have seen "the connection between the university ferment of the late 1960s and the tyranny of terrorism a decade later as axiomatic." "Tarrow boldly interprets the excesses of a desperate few as confirmation that the great majority of militants had been absorbed into the polity by 1975." Despite reservations on some points, Kelikian called Democracy and Disorder "an important and challenging book."

In 1989 Tarrow also published Struggle, Politics, and Reform: Collective Action, Social Movements, and Cycles of Protest, a book that broadens the idea of cycles of protest referred to in Democracy and Disorder as well as elsewhere in Tarrow's work. Here the author expands his view to encompass a theory about the history of social movements in general. In Choice, Pamela Oliver called the book a "'must read' . . . [for] everyone who studies social movements, reform, or politics" and for graduates and undergraduates studying political sociology or social movements. She noted that the book "starts from the basics, so a novice can read it," but contains plenty of up-to-date material.

Tarrow's magnum opus is Power in Movement: Social Movements, Collective Action, and Politics, published first in 1994 and since revised and reissued. The book was greeted in the political science community as a work of great depth and penetration, a summation, in a sense, of Tarrow's scholarly work to date. Its scope is by far the broadest Tarrow has taken, as it covers two hundred years of selected social and political history, mostly in Europe and the United States. In the words of Robert D. Benford in the American Journal of Sociology, Power in Movement "develop[s] a general theory of collective action that accounts for the rise and fall of movements, the powers they derive and exercise, and their cultural and structural impacts."

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, appraising Power in Movement in the American Historical Review, wrote that "Tarrow highlights the long-term impact that social movements can have on both societies and individual participants. He succeeds in navigating a safe course between the Scylla of romanticization and the Charybdis of cynicism, suggesting sensibly that 'the most far-reaching impacts of cycles of protest' are often 'found in slow and incremental changes in political culture,' . . . rather than in dramatic transformations such as revolutions." Wasserstrom continued, "One pattern [Tarrow] stresses is the shift between the early modern and modern periods from 'segmentary' repertoires of contention to 'modular' ones." The first are characterized by "clear links between grievances and tactics," among other things. The "modular" form is marked by "groups with different social bases and ideologies using similar tactics (petition drives, barricade construction, demonstration) to pursue their goals." The growth of media, especially the television and computer media which link the globe, have sped this homogenization of tactics.

Although Wasserstrom complained about some of Tarrow's generalizations, especially in areas like China, with which Tarrow is not so familiar, the reviewer did deem the book "impressive," "noteworthy," and one that "provides enough in the way of insights and information to deserve a place of honor on many bookshelves."



Tarrow, Sidney G., Peter J. Katzenstein, and Luigi Graziano, editors, Territorial Politics in Industrial Nations, Praeger (New York, NY), 1978.


American Historical Review, April, 1995, pp. 472-474.

American Journal of Sociology, July, 1995, pp. 227-229.

American Political Science Review, December, 1990, pp. 1425-1426.

Choice, 1967, p. 267; October, 1977, p. 1127; October, 1978, p. 1129; June, 1990, p. 1748.

Contemporary Sociology, January, 1991, p. 40.

Journal of Politics, August, 1978, pp. 826-828.

New Statesman, February 16, 1968, pp. 211-212.

New York Review of Books, May 8, 1969, p. 31.

Political Science Quarterly, winter, 1977-78, pp. 753-755.

Times Literary Supplement, November 10, 1989, p. 1234.