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Sociology 1021E Lecture Notes - Mass Media, Postmodern Literature, Intensify

Course Code
SOC 1021E
Kim Luton

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Chapter 15-Social Movements
Social movement- a large group of people trying to bring about
or resist social change
Three Early Theoretical Approaches: Collective Behaviour
Collective Behaviour- occurs when a large number of people
don’t accept the prevailing norms, leaders or values in a society
-can’t tolerate the way things are and
engage in activities that are less institutionalized when compared to
regular behaviour
Panics-occur when people are overcome with fear or
apprehension and try to save themselves or possessions by taking
immediate action
-least institutionalized
Crowds- many are conventional or casually emerge in the course
of conventional behaviour.
-somewhat more instutionalized
Fads- unconventional practises that spread rapidly and are
adopted in a short period of time by a large number of people
-somewhat more instutionalized
Craze- special kind of fad that involves unusual commitment and
enthusiasm and is often regarded as strange and perhaps
offensive by other people.
Public- large and usually dispersed group made up of persons
who share an interest in the same thing
Social Movement- Large collectivity of people trying to bring
about or resist social change
Blumer and Social Contagion
Blumer was largely concerned with the behaviour of
unconventional crowds
Social Contagion-relatively rapid, unwitting and non-rational
dissemination of a mood, impulse or form of conduct
An idea, belief or perception spreads through a group of people
much like an epidemic- usually happens when something has
disturbed the established ways in which people are accustomed to
doing things
Emergent Norm Theory
Developed by Turner and Killian
They argue there is a great diversity among those who participate
in a crowd
Emergent Norm Theory- they perceive that a consensus exists
about a specific action that should be taken, and therefore may
conform to what the crowd is doing
Legacy of the Collective Behaviour Approach
Weaknesses in this tradition: concept of social contagion has been
largely rejected
This literature gives insufficient attention to social structure and
its particularities
The collective behaviour literature conveys the impression that
what is important is much the same in all societies
Pays little attention to interest groups and conflict among such
Critics dispute the assumption that collective behaviour is non-
instutionalized. They point out that people may participate in
collective behaviour to defend values they have held for years
Social Breakdown
Social Breakdown approach-Widespread supposition that social
unrest occurs when established institutions are disrupted or
weakened. As a consequence, people are left “uprooted” and
become susceptible to the appeal of a social movement
Social Integration- Durkheim’s notion
-the attachment of individuals to social
groups or institutions
The people most likely to participate in social unrest are those
who are relatively alienated, uprooted, or socially maladjusted
Relative Deprivation
The simplest and most straightforward theoretical approach
Says that people will turn against existing social arrangements
when they are most unhappy with them.
Feelings of discontent and dissatisfaction
Relative deprivation- gap between what they believe they have
a right to receive (expectations) and what they actually receive
Criticism- makes the mistake of focusing primarily on the
conditions that immediately precede a social movement or a
Collective Action Approaches
Reject the concept of collective behaviour and the whole idea that
a social movement is relatively non-institutionalized.
Argue that social movements belong to an even broader category
of human behaviour- collective action
Collective behaviour refers to relatively non-institutionalized
conduct- conduct that departs from the ordinary or routine
Collective Action- covers both institutionalized and non-
institutionalized activity.
-the pursuit of a goal or set of goals by a
number of persons
not all collective action is the same
describe the changes in the character of collective action, and also
explain why such changes occur- they examine the underlying
social bonds and divisions in the society and endeavour to
understand how these structural conditions change over time
identify 2 kinds of factors: cleavage factors, which tend to
separate people from one another or set them at odds
integrating factors, which pull people together in social groups so
that they can engage in collective action
Resource Mobilization
Mobilization-transfer of resources from one kind of collective
action to another
Ideology-set of beliefs that provide the basis for collective action
in R.M theory, the function of an ideology is to identify a problem,
diagnose it, attribute blame, and offer a solution
Frame-ideology is based on this
-consists of principles that enable people to make sense
of the events taking place in their world.
the success of any organizational activity also depends on
whether members posses an effective means of communicating
with one another
cooperative relationship is a normal social relationship involving
some kind of cooperative activity
many social movements collapse simply because they run out of
Theories of breakdown assert that a social movement is most
likely to occur when social institutions are weak.
Those who participate are socially isolated.
Collective action literature emphasizes the need for organizational
structures to furnish leadership and framing, channels for
communication and a network of cooperative relationships
Differences in the way collective action theory and relative
deprivation theory explain the fact that it is usually not the most
disadvantaged groups in society that engage in social movements
Relative deprivation theory solves this by saying that it is relative,
rather than absolute deprivation that makes people angry
Collective action theorists argue that only people who are better
off have the resources to organize a social movement and impress
their demands on authorities.