The onset of the twenty-first century has witnessed major shifts in the vectors of economic and political power that structure the world-system. Above all, the rise of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa – have called into question the future of western dominance in world markets and geopolitics (Arrighi 2009; Desai 2013; Kiely 2015). The developmental trajectories of the BRICS countries are shot through with socioeconomic fault lines that relegate large numbers of people to the margins of current growth processes. Persistent poverty and widening inequalities in turn fuel popular discontent and give rise to new forms of political mobilisation that range from highly localised single-issue protests to sustained social movements oriented towards structural transformation (Smith and West 2012; Cox and Nilsen 2014; Ness 2015).

On the other hand, governing authorities in the BRICS countries have had to reconcile neoliberal imperatives of accumulation with the need for popular consent and legitimacy through various strategies. We have also seen the emergence of new hegemonic projects centred on nationalism, populism, authoritarianism, and the politics of corruption. The Mapping the Fault Lines project investigates both popular and social mobilisations from below and the nature of their interaction with authorities and elites in each of the BRICS countries. Moreover, in order to map how regimes have attempted to reconcile accumulation and legitimacy, our research aims to produce fine-grained analyses of the forms of state and modes of intervention and regulation that are crystallising in the BRICS countries. This entails a two-pronged focus on (i) the social forces that state power rests upon of and (ii) the activities undertaken by the states in question to ensure a measure of popular legitimacy. Hence the project proceeds via detailed interrogations of the political projects undertaken both to consolidate dominant coalitions as well as to ensure regime legitimation. Finally, we study the ways in which these processes generate political mobilisations through a multidimensional approach that focuses on (i) specific movement processes, and (ii) national movement landscapes.