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SOCI 386 (5)

Staggenborg, Social Movements, pp. 13-46, 52-55, 182-187.docx

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McGill University
Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 386
Marcos Ancelovici

Social Movement Theories (Staggenborg) Collective Behaviour Theories - Classical model of SMs - Believes that collective behaviour comes about during a period of social disruption when grievances are deeply felt - Concerned with the psychological states of participants Share several assumptions: 1) Collective behaviour exists outside institutionalized structures (SMs are connected insofar as they are all unstructured situations unbound by established norms) 2) SMs and other forms of collective behaviour arise as a result of some type of structural/cultural breakdown or strain 3) Shared beliefs are important in analyzing the emergence of SMs (less emphasis on pre-existing organization and strategy) Symbolic Interactionism - Collective behaviour develops in situations where established systems of meaning and sources of information have broken down, forcing participants to construct new meanings to guide their behaviour - Tumer and Killian- role of the “emergent norm” as a shared view of reality that justifies and coordinates collective behaviour- emergent norms may become highly elaborated ideologies and are not fixed- may develop in response to interactions between individuals Smelser’s Theory Value added model: each condition adds value to the explanation 1) Conditions of structural conduciveness permit or encourage certain types of collective behaviour 2) Conditions of structural strain create real or anticipated deprivation- combines with the condition of conduciveness 3) Growth and spread of a generalized belief makes the situation meaningful- identifies source of strain and suggests possible responses 4) Precipitating factors give the generalized beliefs a concrete target for collective action 5) Mobilization for action must occur- leadership important 6) Social control may act to prevent the collective behaviour Criticsms: - Relies too heavily on structural strains to explain SMs - No clear criteria exist for identifying strain in a society - Assumes societies are naturally stable and strains are unusual, when they may be a fairly constant feature of societies - Views SM actors as irrational Mass Society Theory - Views collective behaviour as an extreme response to social isolation (based on Durkheimean theory) - Social changes (like economic depressions or rapid industrialization) uproot people from their normal associations, which creates social atomization and feelings of alienation that make people susceptible to recruitment by SMs Criticisms: - It’s wrong - People who are more tied to social networks are most likely to participate in SMs Relative Deprivation Theory - When conditions start to improve, expectations rise- when expectations outpace the rate of improvement, people feel deprived Criticisms: - Infers psychological states from objective indicators such as unemployment rates when there is little evidence that objective measures are good predictors of various types of rebellion - Factors such as organizational capacity and government sanctions are better predictors of collective action - Feelings of relative deprivation may be generated through participation in a movement, rather than being the precipitating factor for involvement Resource Mobilization Theory - McCarthy and Zald - Strains in societies are almost always there but for them to be transformed into collective action, resources and organization are required - Resources include: moral resources, cultural resources, organizational resources, human resources, material resources - Movement entrepreneurs play an important role in defining issues by drawing on public sentiments and increasing the public demand for change - Resources to movement do not necessarily always come from beneficiary constituents, sometimes come from conscience constituents (contribute but do not personally benefit from the movement) - Often outside support from conscience constituents is crucial to movement success - SMOs with more formalized/bureaucratic structures are better able to sustain a movement over time, whereas informal organizations are better at innovating tactics and taking quick action Political Process Theory - Emphasizes the interactions of SM actors with the state and the role that political opportunities play in the mobilization and outcomes of SMs - SMs most likely to emerge when potential collective actors perceive that conditions are favourable - Political opportunity: openness in polity, shifts in political alignments, divisions among elites, availability of influential allies, repression or facilitation by the state - When opportunities expand generally, a variety of movements may mobilize, resulting in a cycle of contention, which is a phase of heightened conflict across the social system - Movements are not only influenced by political opportunities, they also create opportunities - Threats often mobilize activists Synthetic Approach - RMT and PPM- views SMs as political entities aiming to create social change - Collective action frames- interpretations of issues and events that inspire and legitimate collective action and framing as an important activity of movement leaders and organizations - Framing: role of movements in constructing cultural meanings - Master frames: generic frames available for use by any SM, contrary to movement- specific frames - Discourse analysis: how actors construct frames and strategies New Social Movement Theory (NSMT) - Describes SMs in post-industrial societies Habermas - Post-industrial societies bring new goals and demands - NSMs are concerned with defense of the “lifeworld” (sphere of life concerned with debate and communication, not the “system”, (instrumental, economic concerns) - i.e. effects of world trade- focus on post-materialist values (quality of li
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