POLC99H3 Lecture Notes - Uneven Structure, Symbolic Power, Social Movement

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4 Apr 2011
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POLC99 Lecture 5 February 1
Social Movements: Theory + Practice
Social Movements: collectively organized actors who mobilize and make demands
on the state rather than seeking to overthrow it.
Characteristics of social movements:
1.INFORMAL INTERACTION NETWORKS: a web of interaction between individuals
and organizations. They can circulate material equipment, inspiration,
knowledge and everything thats needed for action.
2.SHARED BELIEFS AND SOLIDARITY: new identities make them stick together
and give them permanence. Shared collective identities they have in common.
3.COLLECTIVE ACTION FOCUSING ON CONFLICTS OR GRIEVANCES: trying to
promote social change and they are issue specific (i.e. feminist, animal
protection, human rights)
4.USE OF PROTEST: known for their non-institutionalized nature, they are
rooted in civil society, not the state.
4 Models of Collective Actions
Classical Model (Social Psychological Approach)
Focuses on the underlying psychological conditions that motivate individuals to
engage in collective action.
Structural strain > disruptive psychological state > social movements.
Examples
Social isolation can cause structural strain, feelings of being socially
alienated.
Rapid increases in socio economic inequalities.
Frustrated expectations between what you expected to happen and what
actually happened.
Assumptions
-Social movements are a collective reaction to some form of strain or conflicts
-The central focus is on the role of individuals, rather than systems in
movement formation.
-The motivation for movement participation is rooted in psychological rather
than political goals. To cure whatever grievance, the social movement will
satisfy that feeling in injustice and isolation.
Criticisms
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POLC99 Lecture 5 February 1
-Implies that movement participants suffer from psychological abnormalities.
-Suggests a simple and direct relation between conflict and action.
-Views social movements as individualistic made up of individuals rather than
collective phenomena.
Resource Mobilization Model (Strategy-based Approach)
Focuses on the internal organizational life of movements and the ways in which
they mobilize resources for their emergence and success.
Assumptions
-Social movement formation requires input of resources from an external
group. Church groups, NGOs can give resources, leadership/organizational
skills, and know-how. That enables them to form a social movement.
-Social movements are collections of political actors dedicated to the
advancement of their stated goals. They are inherently political; it removes
any trace of abnormality. They are rational, committed and part of politics.
Any pathology is removed.
-Social movement outcomes are a product of specific decisions, tactics, and
strategies adopted by the actors involved. They can control the outcome based
on their perception of a situation and how they react to it.
Criticisms
-Fails to adequately define resources and how to measure that. Why would
outsiders be interested din fomenting their social movement?
-It overlooks the crucial importance of local skills and resources and the
capabilities of the poor. They dont need an input of resources from the
outside.
Political Process Model (Political Opportunity Structure Approach)
Focuses on political variable in the movements environment and the way they
shape or constrain movement formation and success. Charles Tilly and Sidney
Tarrow. Political institutions (channels) of representation. Levels of repression can
stop a movement from forming
Assumptions
-Social actors are either inside or outside the policy. Those inside resist
change and those outside tend to push for change. Its very political.
-Popular sector groups are able to generate and sustain organized mass
action. The political context constrains them, and the political context is not
favourable.
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Document Summary

Social movements: collectively organized actors who mobilize and make demands on the state rather than seeking to overthrow it. Informal interaction networks: a web of interaction between individuals and organizations. They can circulate material equipment, inspiration, knowledge and everything that"s needed for action: shared beliefs and solidarity : new identities make them stick together and give them permanence. Focuses on the underlying psychological conditions that motivate individuals to engage in collective action. Structural strain > disruptive psychological state > social movements. Examples: social isolation can cause structural strain, feelings of being socially alienated, rapid increases in socio economic inequalities, frustrated expectations between what you expected to happen and what actually happened. Social movements are a collective reaction to some form of strain or conflicts. The central focus is on the role of individuals, rather than systems in movement formation. The motivation for movement participation is rooted in psychological rather than political goals.

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