Social Movement Success as a Political Process: The Case of the 2012 Quebec Student Protests

Jacob Robbins-Kanter, Daniel Troup


University tuition fees in Quebec remain among the lowest in North America, despite recent government attempts to raise them. What explains the success of the 2012 Quebec student protests? This paper, drawing upon scholarship on social movement success, argues that the unfolding of political events in 2012 demonstrates the counter-intuitive manner in which a state can come to reflect a social movement's objectives. The Quebec student movement succeeded not by garnering public support or directly influencing policy decisions, but by allying itself with an opposition party that won an election in spite of its association with the movement. The student movement was not backed by popular opinion, and its success resulted from aligning itself with a party that was able to withstand the detrimental effects of this relationship.


social movements; post-secondary education; student politics; protest

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125