POLS 251 Lecture Notes - Social Movement Theory, Resource Mobilization, Collective Behavior
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February 1st 2013
Resource Mobilization Theory
Resource Mobilization Theory: a theoretical approach focusing on the resources,
organization, and opportunities needed for social movement mobilization and
•Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT) emerges as a result of the dissatisfaction
with previous assumptions of so-called Classical Social Movement Theory.
•A) Members of the movements emerging in the 1960’s were not
characterized as marginalized, isolated or deprived but were more often
members of the middle class.
•Early assumptions on who joins included:
•Marginal and alienated members of society
•Individuals that were insecure and/or dogmatic
•Individuals that were compensating for some kind of personal
•Difficult given young middle class youth, easy associated
•Out casted, disempowered
•Imitate the short falls
•B) The larger picture of collective behavior as irrational appeared unfounded.
Margit Mayer argues, “the failure of liberal politics provided the trigger for a
wave of social movements that could hardly be read as irrational outbursts of
deviant or marginal groups” (Mayer, 1995).
•Political interest, political culture, couldn’t address the problems
•1960s to early 1970s
•Dominate frame work
The problems with these conclusions and the lack of empirical research to
demonstrate these claims led to the emergence of the “resource mobilization”
paradigm and a body of work that known as Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT).
Core Assumptions of RMT
•Grievance is constantly present in any society as is structural strain. (Note
the emphasis on countering functionalist theory in this important claim).
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