Pols 251 1
Feb 4th 2013
• Social movement actors are viewed as rational beings pursuing a goal using protest as a
political resource. Margit Mayer suggests, “social movements are not distinct and apart
from political parties, lobbies and interest groups, rather they are equally legitimate
players in basically the same field” (Mayer, 1995).
• Environment is like a free market
• Creates a frame work with some imperial reality
• Both approaches possible
• Range of resources we can access
• Are some more important?
• Are some universal?
• Reflective of North American model
• Influenced by rational choice
• Directed by self interest
• What are some alternative ways?
• Universal assumption may be problematic
• What are humans like?
• What causes them to act?
• McCarthy and Zald (1977) provide a key articulation of what best represents the first
phase of RMT: “the resource mobilization approach emphasizes both societal support
and constraint of social movement phenomena. It examines the variety of resources that
must be mobilized, the linkages of social movements to other groups; the dependence of
movements on external support for success and the tactics used by authorities to control
and incorporate movements.” (See reader Chap. 19)
• Model is more holistic
• Counter movements are part of the cycle
• Core of social conservatism that had their hands on resources
• Margit Mayer refers to this early stage of RMT as the organization strand of resource
• Memberships and recruitment
• Critical – contribute to a social movements its success Pols 251 2
Feb 4th 2013
• Difference between then and now
• Example: social networkers
• This particular strand of RMT drew heavily on economics. The idea of a social
movement sector was conceived where in free competition with other sectors of society
(commercial organizations or orthodox pressure groups), social movements would
compete to attract public attention and financial resources. Early RM theorists
emphasized the aggregation of resources and the degree of organization and
formalization that resource aggregation requires.
• Macro – think about the equivalent of a free market
• The study of social movements can open up to include
• Not for profit, who promote ngos
• Similar challenge for resources
• Media is a critical resource
• Is it changing?
• Example “green peace”
• “it’s about the money honey”
• Infinity between
• Aggregation resources: The summation of all requirements of multi-department
resources across all departments that use it.
• Note that the rise of counter movements fit this perspective well (E.g. counter-
movements are usually supported by elites and attempt to deprive the social movement of
resources the cost of participation). However, movements that were complementary led
RM theorists to also recognize that these could be a source of