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Lecture 2

SOCI 3250 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Social Movement Theory, Collective Behavior, Polyarchy

Course Code
SOCI 3250
Pablo Lapegna

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SOCI 3250 Protest and Social Movements
Lecture 2: Collective Behavior Theory
I. Social Movement Studies, 1970 today
Social Movements & Social Movement Studies
o Actual social movements do not equal the study of social movements
o Different scholars/schools emphasize different social movement features
Depends on the context where social movement research is produced
(different movements & different history of ideas)
a. Pre-1970s Collective Behavior Theory (CB)
b. Post 1970s
1) Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT)
2) Political Process Theory (PPT)
3) European New Social Movement Theory (NSM)
c. 1980s-1990s Framing & Culture
d. Post 2001 Contentious Politics (CP)
II. Collective Behavior Theory
Context of CBT
o CB as sub-field of US sociology in 1930s
o CB through Blumer’s Symbolic Interactionism (1940s)
o CB through Smelser’s Functionalist Sociology (1960s)
Written in context of civil rights movements
o Dissimilar perspectivesbut common avoidance of history & politics
o CBT a polyarchy (ruling by many) model of politics
Main Aspects
o Theory intense strains/grievances lead to collective action
Social life is stable (normal) until strain occurs in society . . people
become aggrieved
Strain a moment of crisis (breakdown) in the social order
Strains loosen social control (people’s attachments to morals & norms
that constraint behavior) & leads to social unrest
Weakened social integration “anomie” (Durkheim) social
Strains grievances on a psychological level (anguish)
“boiling point” collective action
o Research Question where do strains & grievances come from?
1) Rapid, significant social change
Industrialization + migration + urbanization + economic crisis +
political conflict = mass society
disruption & dislocation in daily routines
2) Relative deprivation
Perception that you are worst compared to others, the past, or
future expectations
o “Steam Boiler” Metaphor
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