James Jasper offers one of the best books available on social movements. In "The Art of Moral Protest" it is mostly the cultural and emotional sides of social movements which is explored leaving aside the more traditional structural accounts of social movement theory. Jasper emphasize principally 4 dimensions of protest: culture, resources, strategies and biographies and divide movements into two categories: citizenship movements and post-citizenship movements. Interestingly however, the structure of the book do not follow these main dimensions and categories but propose a kind of linear logic of movements' evolution from the emotion (moral shock) which send people into action to the creation of a movement culture which help sustain participation to the relation between movements and the broader culture in which they evolve and try to change. An interesting last part deal with the author's own "normative view" of social movements exploring the pleasures associated with movement participation, the danger sometimes embodied in social movement (particularly those who harbour totalizing ideologies) but also the necessity of protest for our societies. The book is full of stories and historical details which help make sense of the arguments developed in the book and keep this theoretical book as interesting as a novel.
If I had to teach a course on social movements, I would probably chose two books for my students to read. The first one would be "Power in Movement" from Tarrow and the second one would be "The Art of Moral Protest". Many excellent books have been written on social movements but very few complement each other as well as these two books. They present the two current main branches of social movement studies.
If I had to find a few problems with the book it would be related to the reference system adopted. By placing all references and notes at the end of the book, the more interested reader easily get lost. It might sound silly at first, but since the book is quite thick it becomes quite annoying with time... especially when you are thrilled by the reading but still want to get that extra detail hidden at the end of the book.
I loved this book. Anyone who likes the cultural side of politics will appreciate this book, Jasper's magnum opus. If you're writing a dissertation on social movements, you can't not read it.