Textbook Notes (369,126)
Canada (162,403)
Sociology (1,062)
SOCA02H3 (310)
Chapter 21

Chapter 21.docx

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Sheldon Ungar

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Chapter 21: Collective Action and Social movements Recall: How to spark a Riot  largest pulp & paper mills  toxic fumes (sulphur dioxide) & student’s attempts to take action and protest which backfires The Study of collective Action and Social Movements:  Main chapter issue: Under what social conditions do people act in union to change or resist change to society?  3 sections: o 1. Social conditions leading to mobs, riots, and other types of non-routine collective action  ppl act in unions to bring about or resist social, political, and economic chance  Some collective actions are routine & o/s are non-routine  Routine = nonviolent, follow established patterns  Ex: MADD & workers forming a union  Nonroutine = violent, short lived  Form mobs, engage in riots  Until early 70’s believed ppl lose their individuality and capacity for reason in wild mobs o 2. Conditions underlying the formation of social movements  enduring, bureaucratically organized attempts to change or resist change to part or all of the social order by petitioning, striking, demonstrating, establishing lobbies, unions, and political parties  Concerns the distribution of power in society and framing of political issues in ways that appeal to many ppl o 3. Observations about changing character of social movements  Much of history of social movements = attempts by underprivileged groups to broaden their members’ citizenship rights & increase protest from local to global level Non-Routine Collective Action: The Vancouver Riot of 1907:  Fowler = secretary of Asiatic Exclusion League o White trade unionists try to convince American and Canadian governments to keep Chinese, Japanese, hindus, Sikhs out o Participated in anti-asian riot o Vancouver loudly cheered Fowler’s impassioned description of violence w/ flag saying “a white Canada for us” o Members surged uncontrollably into Chinatown throwing insults & rocks & beating/stabbing Chinese people & then moved to Japanese quarters o According to papers, riot resulted less from local social conditions o Newspapers suggested, good white Canadian citizens could not be responsible for such an outrage Breakdown Theory:  Till 1970s, most sociologists believed 1/3 conditions must be met for non-routine collective actions st o 1 : group of people must be socially marginal/ poorly integrated into society o 2 : their norms must be strained/ disrupted o 3 : must lose capacity to act rationally  Group these 3 together as breakdown theory  Views collective action as a form of social imbalance  Pre-1970s sociologists would say Vancouver riot was caused by one or more of the following factors: 1. The discontent of socially marginal people a. Factor Ontario newspaper emphasized when they single out “foreign agitators” as the main cause b. According to papers, rioters influenced by ppl outside the community who were skilled in whipping crowds into a frenzy 2. The violation of norms, sometimes called strain a. 2 norms violated: cultural and economic b. Rapid demand for labour, # of asian immigrants grew & ppl viewed asian immigrants as a threat to their cultural integrity c. British Colombians material expectations out of line with reality i. Not absolute deprivation that generates riots so much as relative deprivation (intolerable gap b/w social rewards ppl expect to receive, and what they actually get) 3. The inherent irrationality of crowd behaviour a. Indiv transformed into barbarian in crown & gain invincible group power i. Contagion theory of crowd behaviour= process extreme passions spread rapidly through a crowd Assessing Breakdown Theory:  Can breakdown theory adequately account for collective action in general? NO.  Flaws in all 3 elements: 1. Social Marginality: a. Fowler and associated were “outside agitators” BUT if there had not been local ppl who were deeply concerned about oriental immigration, no amount of propaganda would have aroused the crowds b. Parade of 9000 ppl to hear Fowler’s speech organized locally c. In most cases of collective action, leaders are well integrated members of their communities 2. Contagion: a. Days events not spontaneous and unorganized b. Formed more than a month earlier & held several meetings c. Nonroutine collective action may be wild, but it is usually socially structured d. Of Vancouver rioters had not shared racist attitudes, the never would have organized the parade and engaged in the riot e. Is socially structured by ideas  ex. To throw rocks f. Is structured by degree to which participants adhere to pre-existing norms. g. Pre-existing social relationships structure non-routine collective action i. Relatives, friends more likely than strangers to cluster for riots 3. Strain: a. Levels of deprivation, absolute or relative, not associated with outbursts of collective action b. Deprivation may be viewed as a necessary but not a sufficient condition for collective action c. Roots of the riot embedded in way local labour market was organized d. Low wage workers of one race and high wage workers of another race compete for same jobs, racist attitudes develop or are reinforced b/c high wage workers resent the presence of low wage competitors e. Collective action is partly a reaction to the violation of norms threatened to disorganize traditional social life f. Collective action is also a response to the organization of social life. Social Movements:  According to breakdown theory, ppl typically engage in non-routine collective action soon after social breakdown occurs  In reality, ppl find it difficult to turn their discontent into an enduring social movement  Social movements emerge from collective action only when the discontented succeed in building up more or less stable membership and organizational base. Solidarity theory:  Social breakdown oft does not have the expected short-term effect  Measured social breaksown by collecting data on rates of urban growth, suicide, major crime, prices, wages, value of industrial production  Acts of collective violence did not increase in the wake of mounting social breakdown, nor did they decrease periods marked by less breakdown  3 fundamental lessons of solidarity theory of social movements: 1. Collective violence in france increased when number of union members rose a. union organization gave workers more power and increased their capacity to pursue their aims b. most collective action is part of a power struggle which intensifies as groups who feel disadvantaged become more powerful i. become more powerful by gaining new members & being more organized & increasing their access to scarce resources c. resource mobilization  process by which groups engage in more collective action as their power increases 2. More collective violence when national elections were held a. Gave ppl new political opportunities to protest b. Collective action takes place also when privileged groups and the institutions they control are divided and therefore b/cme weaker c. Political opportunities for collective action and social movement growth occur during election campaigns, when influential allies offer insurgents support, when ruling political alignments become unstable and when elite groups become divided and conflict with one another. 3. Government reactions to protest influence subsequent protest a. Govts can try to lower the frequency and intensity of protest by taking various social control measures which incld making concessions to protestors/ co-opting troublesome leaders (Ex: appoint them as advisers) / violently repressing collective action b. Don’t always have desired effect  using force oftn backfires b/c unrest intensifies when protesters are led to believe that govt is weak or indecisive. Strikes and the Union Movement in Canada:  Blue-collar & white-collar workers strike by withholding their labour to extract concessions in the form of higher wages
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