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Sociology Research


Dr Benjamin Abrams is Director of Studies in Sociology at St Catharine's College, and an affiliated Lecturer in Sociology in the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences.  He is currently conducting full-time research at University College London, funded by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship.

Benjamin's research focuses on exploratory macro-causal comparisons and case studies, designed to generate new, durable theoretical insights. His approach fuses these macro-level techniques with in-depth investigative within-case methods, with a specialism in the analysis of ethnographic interviews and archival sources. His research covers the following topics:

Benjamin's research on revolutions has answered questions such as: how the shape of revolutionary coalitions prefigures revolutionary outcomes; how revolutionary waves initiate new protests elsewhere; and how revolutionary movements demobilise after contentious conflicts. He also has an interest in broader questions of revolutionary theory.

Mass Mobilisation
Benjamin is also interested in processes of mass mobilization, with a particular focus on spontaneous mobilization carried out by people who are neither members nor affiliates of organized movements.  His work on this topic created an entirely new model of mass mobilization: the Affinity-Convergence Model. Benjamin is currently preparing a monograph, based on the project.

Resistance Movements
Benjamin's current major research project at UCL concerns the nature of resistance movements and is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The 'Resistance to Populism' project examines how modern societies respond to and resist the rise of populist regimes.  In addition to his work on modern societies, Benjamin also works on the theory and comparative history of resistance movements from 1870 to the present.

Research Interests

Benjamin's research concerns the sociological analysis of political action and social change. His recent work has focused on mass mobilization, resistance, revolution, and social movements.

Key Publications - Books

Abrams, B. and Gardner, P.R. Symbolic Objects in Contentious Politics. (Forthcoming, University of Michigan Press)

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Abrams, B. Buettner, S. and Machin, A. Forthcoming. “Identity and Brexit: Back to Borders?” in Political Identification in Europe: Community in Crisis? (Emerald Press)

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Abrams, B. 2019. “A Fifth Generation of Revolutionary Theory is Yet to ComeJournal of Historical Sociology.  32(2)

Abrams, B. 2018 “The End of Revolution, and its MeansContention 6:2 pp.86-94

Abrams, B. and Dunn, J.M. 2017 "Modern Revolutions and Beyond" Contention 5:2 pp.114-131

Grants and Projects

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (Principal Investigator) – “Resistance to Populism” – ~£185,000 (September 2019-2022)

American Sociological Association AMTF Award– “After Tahrir: Processes of Demobilization in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution” – $990 (May 2019)

British Sociological Association Early Career Grant– “Symbolic Objects in Contentious Politics” –  £1000 (October 2018)

New School for Social Research Conference Grant – “Autonomous Self-Organization in Egypt’s Revolutionary Crowds” - $1000 (April 2017)

The James Ferris Grant– “Mobilization Beyond the Movement: Contention, Affinity and Convergence in New York, Cairo and Paris” - £1600 (May 2016)

ESRC Overseas Institutional Visit Grant – “Mobilization Beyond the Movement: Contention, Affinity and Convergence in New York, Cairo and Paris” - £2400 (April 2016)

International Society of Political Psychology Small Grant - “Collective Action, Change, and Resistance” - $4,000 (March 2015)

University of Cambridge Research Collaboration Grant – “Crisis and Social Change: Toward Alternative Horizons” –£2125 (2014)

University of Cambridge Fieldwork Grant – “Beyond the Movement: A Relational Study of Social Movements” £7465 (May 2014)

ESRC Language Training Grant – “Beyond the Movement: A Relational Study of Social Movements” £4465 (2014)

ESRC Doctoral Training Grant –  ~£60,000 (2013-2017)

Research Groups & Affiliations

Additional Information


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Political Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge (2017)

MPhil in Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge (2013)

BA & MA (Cantab) in Politics, Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge (2012)

Recent Talks:

The Tacit Authoritarian Pact: Informal Foreign Policy Support for Democratic Downgrading. Political Studies Association Annual Conference on American Politics, Canterbury (January 2020)

Spontaneous Mobilization? A Qualitative Model. New York University Department of Psychology, Social Justice Laboratory, New York (November 2019)

After Tahrir: Processes of Demobilization in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.  American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Regular Session. New York (August 2019)

Me, the People: Democratic Substitution in Hungary and the United States. ASA Political Sociology Section Conference, New York (August 2019)

An Offshoot from a Revolutionary Wave: The Spread of Contention from Egypt’s Revolution to Occupy Wall Street. Social Movement Studies Journal Conference, London (June 2019)

A Theory of Resistance Movements. British Sociological Association Annual Meeting. Glasgow (April 2019)

Democratic Downgrading in Europe and Societal Responses. Globalisation, Europe and the Democratic Crisis. London (February 2019)        

Theorizing Resistance Movements. Millennium Conference on Revolution and Resistance in World Politics. London (October 2018)

Exception and Opportunity in Tahrir and Zuccotti: The Dynamics of Claimed Spaces in the 2011 Protest Wave. Political Studies Association – Participatory & Deliberative Democracy Conference. London (September 2018)

The Road from Tahrir: Demobilization after Egypt’s 18 Days. European Consortium for Political Research Midterm Conference: Where is the social movement field going? Florence (May 2018)

Job Title:
Director of Studies in Sociology at St Catharine’s College, Affiliated Lecturer