SOCA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 21: Social Control, Peace Movement, European Canadian

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
School
UTSC
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCA02H3
Professor
WEEK 11: CHAPTER 21 (COLLECTIVE ACTION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS)
How to Spark a Riot
The Study of Collective Action and Social Movements
Under what social conditions do people act in unison to change, or resist change to, society?
Collective action occurs when people act in unison to bring about or resist social, political, and
economic change
o Some collective actions are “routine” which tend to be nonviolent and follow
established patterns of behaviour in bureaucratic social structures (i.e., MADD) and
others are “non-routine” which tends to be short-lived and sometimes violent (i.e.,
mobs and riots)
o It is widely believed that people who engage in non-routine collective action lose their
individuality and capacity for reason
However, this deflects attention from the social organization and inner logic of
extraordinary sociological events
Social movements are collective attempts to change all or part of the political or social order by
means of rioting, petitioning, striking, demonstrating, and establishing pressure groups, unions,
and political parties
o Much of the history of social movements is the history of attempts by underprivileged
groups to broaden their members’ citizenship rights and increase the scope of protest
from the local to the national to the global level
Non-Routine Collective Action
The Vancouver Riot of 1907
A.E. Fowler reinforced and inflamed prejudice toward the Chinese, starting an uncontrollable
riot in Chinatown, hurling insults, throwing rocks through windows, and beating and
occasionally stabbing any Chinese people who were unable to flee or hide
According to the papers, the riot resulted less from local social conditions than from the
incitement of foreign hoodlums, the half-crazed Fowler foremost among them
o The newspapers suggested good white Canadian citizens could not be responsible for
such an outrage
Breakdown Theory: A Functionalist Approach to Collective Action
Until 1970, sociologists believed that one of three conditions must be met for non-routine
collective action to emerge
o A group of people must be socially marginal or poorly integrated in society
o Their norms must be strained or disrupted
o They must lose their capacity to act rationally by getting caught up in the supposedly
inherent madness of crowds
Breakdown theory suggests that social movements emerge when traditional norms and
patterns of social organization are disrupted
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o Variant of functionalism, for it regards collective action as a form of social imbalance
that results from various institutions functioning improperly
Pre-1970 sociologists would have said that the Vancouver riot was caused by one or more of the
following factors
o The discontent of socially marginal people “foreign agitators”
Breakdown theorists often single out such socially marginal people, outside
agitators as a principle cause of riots and other forms of collective action
o Violation of norms (sometimes called a strain breakdowns in traditional norms that
precede collective action)
Two norms were violated: cultural and economic. Asians were regarded as a
threat to cultural integrity
According to breakdown theorists, it is not grinding poverty or, absolute
deprivation (condition of extreme poverty), that generates riots so much as
relative deprivation an intolerable gap between the social rewards people
feel they deserve and the social rewards they expect to receive
o Inherent irrationality of crowd behaviour in a crowd an individual is transformed into a
“barbarian” a “creature acting by instinct possessing the “spontaneity, violence, and
ferocity” of “primitive beings”
Le Bon argues that this transformation occurs because people lose their
individuality and willpower when they join a crowd and gain a sense of
invincible group power that derives from the crowd’s sheer size
Called the Contagion Theory
Assessing Breakdown Theory
Social Marginality
o In most cases of collective action, leaders and early joiners tend to be well-integrated
members of their communities, not socially marginal outsiders
Contagion
o Non-routine collective action is usually socially structured by the predispositions that
unite crowd members and predate their collective action
o Socially structured by ideas and norms that emerge in the crowd itself
o Structured by the degree to which different types of participants adhere to emergent
and pre-existing norms
o Pre-existing social relationships among participants structure non-routine collective
action
Strain
o Post-1970 research shows that, in general, levels of deprivation are not commonly
associated with the frequency or intensity of outbursts of collective action
o Deprivation may be viewed as a necessary, but not sufficient condition
o The Vancouver riot was ultimately the result of the way social life and, in particular, the
labour market were organized in the city
Collective action is often not a short-term reaction to disorganization and deprivation. Instead, it
is a long-term attempt to correct perceived injustice that requires a sound social-organizational
basis
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Document Summary

Week 11: chapter 21 (collective action and social movements) The study of collective action and social movements. It is widely believed that people who engage in non-routine collective action lose their individuality and capacity for reason. However, this deflects attention from the social organization and inner logic of extraordinary sociological events. Fowler reinforced and inflamed prejudice toward the chinese, starting an uncontrollable riot in chinatown, hurling insults, throwing rocks through windows, and beating and occasionally stabbing any chinese people who were unable to flee or hide. Breakdown theory: a functionalist approach to collective action. Pre-1970 sociologists would have said that the vancouver riot was caused by one or more of the following factors: the discontent of socially marginal people foreign agitators . Two norms were violated: cultural and economic. Asians were regarded as a threat to cultural integrity. Inherent irrationality of crowd behaviour in a crowd an individual is transformed into a.

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