Chapter 18- collective action, social movements and social change
Collective action: what is it good for?
Collective action is an action that takes place in groups and diverges from the social
norms of the situation.
Crowd collective action takes place when members of a group are face-to-face
Mass collective action is collective action in which close physical proximity is not
necessary such as a letter writing campaign.
According to convergence theory, collective action happens when people with
similar ideas and tendencies gather in the same place. This theory does not explain
the inconsistency of group action—why collective action sometimes happens under
such circumstances and other times does not.
According to contagion theory, collective action arises because of people’s tendency
to conform to the behaviour of others. This theory downplays individual agency and
does not explain the inconsistency of group action.
Emergent norm theory emphasizes the influence of leaders in promoting particular
norms that members of a group then follow. This theory doesn’t explain why
particular people become leaders or why some actions emerge as norms within a
group and others don’t.
In order to explain who we are as individuals, we tend to talk about different groups
of which we are a part. What makes each of us unique is the particular combination
of groups with which we identify.
Static identity is an aspect of your identity (such as race) that doesn’t change
and that determines at least one group to which you belong;
Dynamic identity is an aspect of your identity that is more fluid (such as working as a
lifeguard for one summer) and that is determined by a group to which you belong.
A social movement is collective behaviour that is purposeful, organized, and
institutionalized but not ritualized.
Alterative social movements seek limited social change and tend to be focused on
a narrow group of people
Redemptive social movements are also focused on a narrow group of people, but
they advocate for more radical change
Reformative social movements advocate for limited social change but seek to
affect that change across an entire society
Revolutionary social movements seek to make radical change across an entire
society. The classical model of social movements proposes that social movements come
about as a collective response to structural weaknesses in society that have a
psychological effect on individuals.
Resource-mobilization theory recognizes the importance of political context and
goals in the development of social movements but also emphasizes that social
movements are unlikely to emerge without the necessary resources.
The political process model of social movements proposes that a social
movement’s chances of developing are heavily influenced by three sets of
conditions—expanding political opportunities, indigenous organizational strength,
and certain shared cognitions among the movement’s proponents.
Social movements generally evolve through three stages—emergence (the social
problem being addressed is first identified), coalescence (resources are mobilized
and concrete action is taken to address the problem), and routinization (a formal