Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Social protest, freedom, and play as rebellion

Carmen L McClish, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation explores historical notions of resistance alongside contemporary playful forms of rebellion. This analysis is centered on the relationship of play to social protest encompassing why we play, how we play, and what this can mean to academics studying social movements, as well as specific contributions for engagement as activists and artists. I propose the need to re-invest in the possibilities of social protest given the absurd nature of certain contemporary political situations and the negative exposure of “somber street protest” by the mainstream media. I rely on play research, performance studies, folktales of tricksters and clowns, sociological research on dissent, analysis of consumerism and identity, and activist publications. This examination includes the work of Erich Fromm, Albert Camus, the Situationist International, Victor Turner, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Social protest needs to be dynamic to attract participants, inviting participation and enjoyment. My dissertation develops a philosophical structure furthering how we can conceive of dissent within the current political and cultural framework in the United States and investigates actual sites of innovative social movements, including the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, the Ministry of Reshelving, Tape Babies, Detroit Demolition, guerrilla gardening, and the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.

Subject Area

Communication|Mass media

Recommended Citation

McClish, Carmen L, "Social protest, freedom, and play as rebellion" (2007). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3275782.