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POLS 251 Lecture Notes - Social Movement Theory, Resource Mobilization, Collective Behavior

Political Studies
Course Code
POLS 251
David York

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Pols 251
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
collective action.
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
Psychological state
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
Context specific
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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