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Our literature review revealed that the term social unrest is not frequently used in scientific research. Most definitions rely on operational descriptions, that means the term is explained by using indicators of their measurement. Such definitions are not conceptual but empirical (Drury and Olson, 1998; Zhang et al., 2005). Our own argumentation will start with these operational definitions. These will give us a hint about the activities that can be grouped under the term social unrests. In a second step we take the indicators as a heuristic tool to explore additional literature on theoretical or empirical studies dealing with activities connected to these indicators. In particular, we refer to studies on political participation, social movements, conflict and crisis, and collective violence. We will discuss the intersections and boundaries between these concepts and social unrest which will lead us to a nominal definition and a specific frame that characterizes our approach. The aim here is to make theoretical and empirical thoughts coming from other fields of research accessible to an audience primarily interested in social unrest.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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