In his contribution Haunss argues that the emergence of protest mobilizations around issues of online privacy, internet regulation, and intellectual property rights (IPRs) are embedded in and intertwined with structural social changes associated with the notion of the knowledge society. They are directly connected with the emergence of new societal cleavages that are expressions of large-scale social change. The transformation from industrial societies to knowledge societies may create new social cleavages and thus may alter the structure of stratifications that are relevant and meaningful for social movements. These new cleavages do not replace the existing cleavages of industrial societies but change the relative centrality of the older ones.

The chapter starts with a brief discussion of the relationship between conflict and social change, proceeds with an analysis of the role of IPRs in the knowledge society, discusses five processes that have led to the politicization of intellectual property, introduces important protest mobilizations in this issue area, and finally argues that the emerging social movements should be interpreted in relation to the processes of social change in the knowledge society.