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Chapter 18

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Tina Fetner

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Chapter 18
Collective Action, Social Movements, and
Social Change
Chapter Study Outline
Collective action (集體行)is action that takes place in groups and diverges from the
social norms of the situation.
Collective Action: What Is It Good For?
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 actionwhy 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 behavior 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
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.
A static (靜態)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;
A dynamic identity is an aspect of your identity that is more fluid (流動)(such as
working as a lifeguard for one summer) and that is determined by a group to which you
Social Movements
A social movement is collective behavior 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 (贖回)social movements are also focused on a narrow group of people,
but they advocate ()for more radical(徹底)change;
reformative(改革)social movements advocate for limited social change but seek to
affect that change across an entire society;
revolutionary(革命)social movements seek to make radical change across an entire
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
(i) expanding political opportunities,(ii)indigenous (本地)organizational strength, and
(iii) certain shared cognitions among the movement’s proponents (提議).
Social movements generally evolve()through three stages
(i)emergence (出現; )(the social problem being addressed is first identified),
(ii)coalescence()(resources are mobilized and concrete action is taken to address the
problem), and
routinization(常規化; 慣例化; 程序化; 習慣)(a formal structure develops to promote
the cause).
A social movement organization (SMO) is a group developed to recruit new members
and coordinate participation in a particular social movement.
A professional movement organization is a type of SMO that has full-time leadership
and a large membership base that plays a minor role in the organization;
a participatory movement organization is a type of SMO that directly involves its
rank-and-file members in decisions and activities to support the organization’s cause.
There are two types of participatory movement organizations: mass protest
organizations advocate for social change through protest and demonstration;
grassroots organizations tend to work through existing political structures to promote
social change.
Americans have traditionally had high participation levels in voluntary associations and
there are various theories about why this is the case. However, there is some evidence
that volunteerism is on the decline in the United States, and one possible explanation is
the influence of the Internet. People can join groups online and donate money online to
support causes without participating in any face-to-face meetings or activities.
Social Movements and Social Change
Not all social change is produced by social movementseconomic and political factors
have a great deal to do with the evolution of society.
Social changes are not valued in the same way by all peoplewhat is of major
importance to one group may barely register for another groupand they do not affect all
people in the same way.
Premodern, Modern, and Postmodern Societies
Premodernity is social organization characterized by concentric circles of social
affiliation, a low degree of division of labor, relatively undeveloped technology, and
traditional social norms.
Modernity is social organization characterized by rationality, bureaucratization, and
objectivity in which individuals are defined by overlapping group affiliations.
The transition from premodernity to modernity is linked to the expansion of scientific
knowledge to the development of new technologies and political structures and to the
notion of progress.
Postmodernity is in many ways a reaction against modernity. It is characterized by a
questioning of the notions of progress and history; it rejects the idea of a single narrative
and embraces multiculturalism; and it perceives the individual as having multiple,
conflicting identities.
Causes of Social Change
Social change can be caused by factors other than social movements, such as
technological innovation, new information and ideas, and conflict between social actors.
In addition to providing a way for participants in social movements to connect, exchange
information, and generally make their voices heard, the Internet has itself become a
forum for radical social protest activities such as virtual sit-ins that jam Web servers and
online impersonation. The primary achievement of such protests is to draw media
attention to a particular issue or cause.
Ironically, perhaps the greatest sign that a social movement has been successful is when
there is no longer a need for it because it has achieved its goal.