Chile’s 2019 october protests and the student movement: Eventful mobilization?*1


A wave of massive, at times violent, protests raged in Chile from October to December of 2019, opening new possibilities for the country’s politics. This paper investigates to what extent these events affected the organization, identity, and strategies of a pivotal actor in the cycle and, for the past two decades, an important driver of domestic political change: the student movement. Based on a qualitative analysis of media coverage and in-depth interviews with key student movement figures, it argues that, although the events in question were a national turning point, they did not necessarily constitute a critical juncture for the student movement. In explaining this somewhat paradoxical outcome, the paper supports the established view that the transformative impact of protest events on social movements depends on the strength of the movement’s organization and the character of its protest repertoires. In addition, it also highlights that some factors overlooked by the broader social movement literature--including the eventfulness of antecedent mobilization and the locus of protest--mediate the consequences of protest events on the movements involved.


Political Science

Document Type



Chile, Eventful Mobilization, Protest, Student Movements

Publication Date


Journal Title

Revista de Ciencia Politica