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Chapter 18

SOC 10000 Chapter 18: Social Movements, and Social Change

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Purdue University
SOC 10000
Weiss Dan

Social Movements, and Social Change • Paradox o What makes a person an individual is his/her affiliation with multiple group identities • Collective Action: What is it Good For? o Collective action is an action that takes place in groups and diverges from the social norms of the situation o There are two main types of collective action: crowd collective action and mass collective action ▪ In crowd collective action, a person must be face to face with the other members of the group ▪ Mass collective action is when people are not physically together; ex. national rifle association members all write letters to their senators protesting a particular law o Theories of Collective Action ▪ Convergence Theory • Convergence theory is a theory of collective action stating that collective action happens when people with similar ideas and tendencies gather in the same place • The main problem with convergence theory is that it is often reduced to the sum of its parts ▪ Contagion Theory • Contagion theory is a theory of collective action claiming that collective action arises because of people’s tendency to conform to behavior of others with whom they are in close contact • Contagion theory suggests that the behavior of other people in groups is contagious – especially under the encouraging influence of a charismatic leader • Although contagion theory helps explain how collective action spreads from one person throughout the entire group, it downplays individual agency and treats individuals as mindless sheep, thoughtlessly following the actions of their neighbors ▪ Emergent Norm Theory • Emergent norm theory is a theory of collective action emphasizing the influence of keynoters in promoting particular norms • Keynoters are not the same as leaders; they can be people whose actions become the behavior copied by an entire group • This theory does not explain why particular people emerge as leaders ▪ Value-Added Theory • Value added theory establishes six conditions that are required for a movement to coalesce and achieve a successful outcome o There must be social strain present that existing power holders are unable or unwilling to alleviate o Folks must be able to agree on a definition of the problem o Folks must be free to act on their grievance o There must be a spark that ignites the controversy o Mobilization for action: folks need to gather together in an organized fashion o The failure of social control by established power holders o Identity and Collective Action 2 ▪ A person’s uniqueness as an individual comes from the collection of groups to which that person belongs ▪ People’s collective associations become the foundation on which they form emotional relationships with other people ▪ Static aspects of a person’s identity are stable and is usually throughout the life ▪ Dynamic aspects of a person’s identity are identifications that are changing • Social Movements o Social movement is a collective behavior that is purposeful, organized, and institutionalized but not ritualized o Social movements are motivated by social or political aims and are achieved through conflict and action directed at particular opponents, not just through consensus and compromise o Types of Social Movements ▪ There are four main types of social movements and they differ by the people whose behavior they seek to change and the extent of societal change they hope to achieve ▪ Alterative Social Movements • Alterative social movements seek the most limited society change and often target a narrow group of people • Example of a successful alterative social movement is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) who seek to change the behavior of drunk drivers ▪ Redemptive Social Movements • Redemptive social movements target specific groups but advocate for more radical change in behavior ▪ Reformative Social Movements • Reformative social movements advocate for limited social change across an entire society ▪ Revolutionary Social Movements 3 • Revolutionary social movements advocate the radical reorganization of society o Models of Social Movements: How Do They Arise? ▪ Classical model is a model of social movements based on a concept of structural weakness in society that results in the psychological disruption of individuals ▪ The classical model is criticized for completely removing the desire to attain specific, rational political goals while overemphasizing psychological tensions
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