Topic 9 – Politics and Social Movements
(Week 9 lecture + NS Chp 18 + SIQ Chp 20-22)
2. Social movements;
3. War from sociological perspective;
Political Revolution & Social Revolution
-- Distinguish between the two.
-- Revolutions must include the overthrown of the current ruling government;
-- Social revolution includes a political revolution;
-- e.g. 1789 French Revolution is an example of a social revolution
-- Difference: social movements do not overthrow the current ruling government.
-- Rebellion is not a revolution;
Two kinds of social movements:
1. State-centered, citizenship movements;
2. Cultural movements;
1. State-centered, citizenship movement.
-- Most consequential in changing major political/economic institutions, changing laws;
-- e.g. civil rights movement; peace movement; labor movement; abortion rights movements;
-- e.g. The United Auto Workers; Martin Luther King & The Black civil rights movements;
-- e.g. Rosie “the Riveter”; Suffrage Movements; “Stonewall”; PETA; LGBT Rights;
-- Reason why it’s called a state-centered movement:
object of change is for the most part at the state level; not overthrow the existing government, but
reform and change it.
-- What unites all of them are grievances on the state level.. not to overthrow, but to reform.
2. Cultural movement
-- Transformation on the level of the society,
-- Not seeking a change in policy on the level of a state, but change in ideas and views of the people and
-- e.g. Pro-Anorexia Movement; Lilith Music Fair;
-- Generally state-centered movement and cultural movement can be separate, but not always mutual
exclusive. Social Movements from sociological perspective:
-- One of the central task: try to explain why, how, when do these movements occur.
-- e.g. Why do women movements occur in some places, but not others? Why in some period of time, but
-- Sociologists: grievances by themselves do not explain why, how when social movement occur.
4 Major Theories
1. Social psychological theory
2. Resource Mobilization theory
3. Cultural theory
4. Political Process theory
1. Social Psychological theory:
-- Popular in 1950s
-- Emotional Instability: People involve in social movements because they are mentally unbalanced; they
have psychological problems; they can’t deal with the problem through right legal
-- Madness of people rather than the madness of society people live in.
-- Deprivation: those who were the most deprived thought they could not bear any more;
-- Not the objective deprivation but rather the relative deprivation (distinguish between conditions across
e.g. if everyone was poor, then people would not feel that discontent and unjust because poverty is
shared by all; if poverty is only among some people and others were rich, sense of relative
deprivation motivates people to engage in movements;
2. Resource Mobilization Theory
-- Emerges around 1980s
-- Grievances are necessary, but not sufficient; More important are the available resources for people to
make the change;
-- Rationale: grievances exists everywhere in the world. People around the world are generally unhappy;
what distinguishes the group in the movement with the group that are not is the RESOURCES THEY
-- Grievances are general and the same, but RESOURCES make the difference.
What do resources mean?? 4 kinds of resources:
1. Access to networks of influence and power;
e.g. politicians; political party;
2. Access to social organizations with influence and power;
3. Access to financial resources;
4. Legislative support
-- support from state elites;
Example: women’s movements 1960s/70s
-- Our generations are called the post-feminist: take all the benefits from the women’s movements without
realizing the back upon which these benefits are build; we should see the effort that had been done and
the effort needs to make Is there a link between WHEN the movement occur and WHAT resources do they have?
-- The combination of grievances and the available resources gave necessary and sufficient conditions for
the movements to occur
-- Grievances: discrimination in the work force and higher education; expectation to take care of both home
1. White middle-class women gained direct access to the money and higer education
2. Some women from the New-Left movement were politicized and tapped into activist networks
3. Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
3. Cultural theories
-- Focus on ideological and cultural factors as primary factors; Identity;
-- Ideologies and culture have to be taken seriously, cannot be considered broadly as a resources (that’s
what RMT does);
-- How is it that people in the movements become politicized?
Example: Modern Lesbian Movements (Demonstration Effect)
-- The Lesbian Movements only took off in 1969 after enough lesbians and gay people have been exposed
to other civil rights movements in other culture (African American Civil Rights Movements)
-- Before 1960, gays and lesbians believe they are sick and deviant, especially the gays and lesbians that are
middle-high class and who are well-educated;
-- Dr Arthur Guy Mathews: cues for homosexuals – teaching hairstyles and make ups (1950s);
-- The first gay/lesbian movement emerge in 1950s “Mattachine Society”
-- Mattachine Society adopts the disease model – ask for social tolerance and forgiveness
-- This challenges the resource theory because this movement is made up by relatively fortunate and
well-educated people (abundant resources), but the modern gay/lesbian movements did not emerge
until 20 years later;
-- Cultural Theorists argue that, gay/lesbian movements cannot succeed until gay/lesbian people
reconceive themselves not as being sick, but equal people worthy of equal rights;
-- They need to be politicized, and have an identity;
-- After the examples of other civil rights movements (demonstration effect), they realize that they need to
frame the problem;
-- Movement Frame:
e.g. women rights movement:
- The frame came when women are sufficiently politicized and develop their political consciousness.
- They develop a movement frame that illustrates the problem of women as a problem of the society;
- They have to develop a frame , not psychological illness but as a marginalized group.
-- Frame Alignment:
- Not all same group share the same problem.
- Needs to go through the Process of frame alignment so that the member of the group have
shared-ideas of problem, shared goals;
-- Frame Transformation:
e.g. Modern gay/lesbian rejects the old sickness model that asks for tolerance. 4. Political Process Theory
-- Takes a structural perspective (political opportunity structural)
-- 4 factors that movement will succeed ():
1. Increasing access to political participation:
- State opponents are less fortified against challengers
2. Unstable Alignment:
- Unstable alignments between parties and constituencies
3. Influential allies
4. Divided Elites
- When elites (key individuals) are not able to hold a coherent front;
Compare and Contrast
Cultural theorists criticize Political Process Theory:
-- Political Process theories seem to forget that, opportunities are not opportunities unless they
recognize them as such. Therefore, activists have to FRAME the opportunities to be opportunities, and