Social Movements Basic Concepts
Business • Book update • Book report assignment (distributed, explained) • Web update • Username: SMStudent • Password: SocMove • These are CASE Sensitive!! • Correct exam dates: March 10, April 28
Choosing Sides, Choosing Theory • There is a broad tendency to use different theories for movements we agree with and those we disagree with • Our own movements • Respond to core principles of justice, morality and characterized by clear thinking. • Principal focus on identifying the most effective forms of action • Opponents • Irrational, deluded even motivated by evil • OR cynical, hiding their true motives • Principal focus on explaining how people could think such things, or on exposing the “true” sources of the movement
Theories are rooted in cases and standpoints If you understand what movements are the touch-points for a line of theory, and how the theorists stood with respect to them, you will understand the core of the theory Our goal is to treat movements as even-handedly as possible in our theory, use the same theories for all movements, or be able to explain theoretically why they differ This does NOT mean we give up our capacity to form political or moral judgments about right and wrong
Older theories • Fearful. French revolution, turmoil, Fascism, Stalinism, lynching. “How could people support such terrible things?” • Group mind, Authoritarianism, Ideological delusion • “Collective behavior” theory focused on disruption of society • Celebratory. Marxian/Socialist supporters of working class movements. Black Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movements of the 1960s • Goals seem unproblematic, reasonable • Political sociology tradition fed into resource mobilization: how can people win?
Basic Definitions (courtesy Goodwin/Jasper) • Protest = the act of challenging, resisting, or making demands upon authorities, powerholders, and/or cultural beliefs and practices by some individual or group • Social movement = a collective, organized, sustained and noninstitutional challenge to authorities, powerholders, or cultural beliefs and practices. • Revolutionary movement = a social movement that seeks, at a minimum, to overthrow the government or state
Protest • the act of challenging, resisting, or making demands • upon • authorities, power-holders, • and/or cultural beliefs and practices • by some individual or group Discuss examples? Borderline cases? We don’t study ONLY protest.
Social Movement is a • challenge to • authorities, power-holders, OR • cultural beliefs and practices • (NOTE: others would say “actions to promote or resist social change”) • that is • collective (multiple people) • organized (coordinated, at least to some degree) • sustained (lasts a while, not just one outburst) and • non-institutional (the most problematic part of a standard definition – outside the “normal” structures or routines of society. More about this shortly.)
Different ways of defining movements • As groups of people (the most natural idea): BUT a movement can continue as the people in it come and go • As a (single) challenge that lasts a long time – but misses the complexity of movements • As preferences for change (i.e. as sets of ideas) (McCarthy & Zald 1977 – commonly cited) BUT although the preferences bound a movement, they are not the thing itself • As sets of actions with common orientations toward social change preferences
Another, related way of defining terms • Collective action (esp. protests): people act together in some concerted fashion. • Collective campaign: series of collective actions oriented toward the same general social change goal bounded by space, time, and/or participants • Social movement: a complex set of collective campaigns and other collective events broadly oriented to the same general goal • Emphasis on complexity, diffuse boundaries • Competing definitions, orientations within the movement
About the “goals” of social movements • Can be extremely vague and ill-defined, especially for relatively unorganized turmoil expressing discontent without clear proposals: “make things better for farmers [or peasants, or poor urbanites]." • Organizations are more likely to articulate clear goals or proposals. • Different factions of the same movement may disagree about specific goals. I.e. different branches of women’s movement, Black movement, workers’ movements, gay movement. • A complex movement generally encompasses may specific and even competing goals within a broader more diffuse social change orientation
Organizations • Social movement organization (SMO): an organization (with boundaries, members, a structure) explicitly oriented toward movement goals. National Organization for Women. NAACP. Greenpeace. • Other organizations (sometimes called “preexisting” organizations) may be part of movements, but their “purpose” is not the movement. I.e. churches, unions, fraternal organizations, government agencies. • All the organizations in a social movement taken together may be called a social movement sector (but the term is NOT popular) • BUT . . .
Preferences for social change Individual Actions Actions oriented toward goal Organizational Actions Collective Actions not by Organizations Movements are more than organizations
Organizations in movements • Coherent decision-making groups set goals, plan strategies, accumulate resources • Often seek directly to influence those who have power • Often plan events designed to draw in other people OR to influence other people’s opinions • May take many forms: moderate law-abiding, small informal or small clandestine, large bureaucratic, radical or disruptive, religious or secular
Other kinds of collective actions • Demonstrations, mass protests. Typically planned by an organization or coalition of organizations, but may draw in many other people. May also occur more spontaneously after a major precipitating event, or at a gathering formed for another purpose. • Riots, short-term insurrections. Typically not planned (although some may be incited). Generally build upon prior sentiments, organized on the spot. • Consciousness. Collective shifts in how people talk about issues, what kinds of actions they reward/punish in others. Ideology, awareness, “standing up.”
Individual actions are also parts of movements • Individual thoughts, ideas • Isolated contributions, usually financial • Votes, public opinion, “green” consumerism • Some individuals take extensive actions to promote their movements: one-person campaigns • Individual acts of interpersonal resistance and solidarity. Challenge hierarchies and form solidarities in interpersonal relations.
Individuals and movements: Beliefs • Adherents support the goals of the movement. • Beneficiaries stand to benefit personally from the movement. • Constituents are adherents who identify with the movement. If you support the goals but hate the movement, you are an adherent who is not a constituent. • Conscience constituents are people who support a movement even though it won't benefit them (e.g. white supporters of black movement, wealthy supporters of working class movement).
Individuals and movements: actions • Participants engage in movement activities • Contributors give money to movement organizations. • Members are be members of particular organizations (see below) • NOTE: a "movement" as a whole is not a single entity with a membership list, but it is common for the term "movement member" to be used casually by non-specialists to refer to participants, contributors, constituents, or sometimes even adherents. • We try to be clear about which we mean
Social movements overlap with other elements of society We don’t worry about drawing boundaries, but about understanding the phenomenon
Turner & Killian’s Movement Orientations • Value: the specific things the group wants to change • Power: the desire to acquire power • Participation as an end in itself: self-expression, doing the right thing, belonging All movements have elements of all three, but vary in the mix.
Types of movement issues: many dimensions • Universal issues: “everyone” benefits (in principle): peace, environment • Responses to economic crises, threats to subsistence, livelihood • Inequality issues • Specific issue, moral reform movements • On behalf of yourself • On behalf of others, victims • Think in terms of the social structure of the issue
Universal issues • Examples: peace, environment • Despite universal claims, always contentious • Peace: avoid war vs. use force to get rid of a perceived problem • Environment: all are harmed if the planet is destroyed, but the harms and the costs of protection are distributed unevenly • The groups supporting these issues tend to be tied to lifestyle, political, or religious subcultures, but not to deep social divisions
Inequality issues • Oppressed people who form separate economically & politically weak communities (many ethnic/racial minorities). Few ties to dominant groups. • Class movements • Reactive responses to subsistence threats • Longer-term solidaristic institutionalized movements seeking state power • These may be tied to deep social divisions • People who experience discrimination (e.g. women, gays, disabled, religious minorities) • Typically integrated with other groups • Vary in class position and level of economic deprivation • Group members may disagree about whether oppressed
Specific reform issues • The issue itself is not necessarily a matter of people’s whole lives • People choose whether to be involved with the issue, although tied to life circumstances • Victimization of self or family member • Professional involvement • These issues may “spin off” from other strong ideological communities, e.g. religious conservatism or feminism • Or they may be relatively isolated issues not closely tied to other movements • These branch down into quite specific local campaigns
Interrelations (more later) • Movement issues tend to come in sets, people who support one issue tend to support others that are seen as related • Common ideologies such as class conscious social justice or conservative Christian morality create a general view, people may move between issues • Other linkages more “accidental,” who happens to be allied: the linkages become stronger due to alliance & conflict structures & patterns, or may shift around over time.
Movement forms: an empirical inventory 1 • Reform campaigns carried by formal organizations that raise money, lobby legislators, organize volunteers. Shade into interest groups, charitable groups. Link to larger pools of public opinion. • Larger movements (e.g. women, Blacks, labor) with many organizations, strong base, have won presence in the polity • Nationalist movements: broad upswelling of oppressed populations, revolutionary if not repressed • Sporadic or unorganized uprisings or resistance by oppressed people
Movement forms: an empirical inventory 2 • Movement sects. Small isolated organizations with sweeping social change goals but no mass base. • Top-down mass mobilizations. Elites organize “movements” for their own ends; may lose control of them. • Ideological movements whose main goals are creating & communicating new ideas. • Cultural movements whose main goal is creating new ways of living or being • Religious movements are ideological & cultural but seem to have special features
Borderline cases • Special interest groups that lobby but lack mass actions • Limited mobilizations around highly specific issues (citizens for a stop sign at the corner) • Self-help movements (depends on definition, theoretical orientation) • Movements within organizations (e.g. movements within churches, within businesses) • Small political parties (often movement consciousness, not really contending for state power) • Institutionalized “former” movements, e.g. labor unions, government agencies
The basic questions about movements Why are there social movements? How are there social movements?
Why movements? Depends on the question • Why do people need movements? Issues of disadvantage, power differentials • Why do people think they need movements? Issues of interests, grievance formation, ideologies. • Why are people able to form movements? Issues of resources, capacities, opportunities. • Why do movements succeed? Issues of opportunity, strategy. • Why do movements rise and fall? Issues of coevolution, dynamics. We will be discussing all these different issues!
Political Process • The broad orientation of this class is the political process synthesis with a “coevolutionary” twist • A way of integrating different factors into a common model • Considers structural conditions, the organization and capacities of a group, the processes of ideology and social construction, and strategic and tactical interactions.
Coevolutionary Theory • Builds on political process • Stresses that movements change/evolve not only from their own internal logic but in interaction with other actors • Stresses that regimes, opponents, media, etc. ALSO change/evolve in interaction with movements • Historical trajectories are the consequences not only of the movement’s choices but of what others do. • No actor can control outcomes, because the outcomes are ALSO a product of others’ actions and choices AND ALSO sheer luck & external circumstances like the weather
Linking Structure & Agency in Coevolution • We need to think probabilistically: a particular set of conditions puts constraints and limits on action but does not pre-determine it • Some sets of conditions are highly constraining, you almost always get the same outcomes • Other sets of conditions are less constraining, permit a wide variety of outcomes depending on luck or strategy/skill • Even when conditions are highly constraining, sometimes the low-probability events can happen • Future events are constrained/affected by what actually happened, an unusual event can start a new path