conflict: social movements & collective action


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CONFLICT: SOCIAL MOVEMENTS & COLLECTIVE ACTION. Social Movement - Collective actions by relatively powerless challenger groups using extra-institutional means to promote or resist social change (political, cultural, economic, ethnic, sexual) - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • CONFLICT: SOCIAL MOVEMENTS & COLLECTIVE ACTIONSocial Movement - Collective actions by relatively powerless challenger groups using extra-institutional means to promote or resist social change (political, cultural, economic, ethnic, sexual) Civil Rights vs KKK; Pro-life vs Pro-choice; 2nd Amendment vs Handgun controlSocial Movement Organization (SMO) - A named formal organization engaged in actions to advance a movements goals Movements often have numerous SMOs pursuing overlapping change agendas. What differences in the goals & tactics of these environmental SMOs?Greenpeace; Sierra Club; Audubon Society; Nature Conservancy; World Wildlife Federation; Friends of Earth; Natural Resources Defense Council; Earth Now!; Earth Liberation Front;

  • Old & New Social MovementsMajor 19th & 20th c. social movements were national struggles for independence from colonial rule (Norway, India, Algeria) and working-class movements for union collective bargaining rights.U.S. Civil Rights Movement of 1950-60s was a new type of movement based on social-group identities. Deprived minorities sought rights of political inclusion: Latinos, Native Americans, women, gays & lesbians, aged, disabled, ...With post-industrialization, many New Social Movements emerged around cultural values, lifestyles & middle-class interests: human rights, environmental, peace/anti-war, social justice, consumer protection, animal liberation, Some new social movements draw international participants and rely on transnational networks to achieve goals

  • Success is Becoming an InsiderOver its life cycle, a SMO may change from radical outsider to accepted political insider. William Gamson (1975) found that centralized and bureaucratized SMOs have better chances of success (gaining recognition & acceptance). Movements with complex orgl structures can wage stronger action campaigns.Give an example of a SMO that transformed into a bureaucratic organization, thus compromising the purity of its struggle?Is Michels Iron Law of Oligarchy the inevitable fate of SMOs?How do social networks among activists & SMOs constrain social movements that drift away from their ideals?But, as a movement wins legitimacy and resources, it runs a risk of cooptation being bought-off by minor concessions from its targets. Leaders become diverted into running orgs and neglecting the original goals; e.g., building homeless shelters instead of solving root causes of homelessness.

  • Penetrating the PolitySMO #1GovernmentWhen SMOs gain recognition, legitimacy, & access to the polity, they cease to be outside challengers. Transformed into institutionalized interest groups, they now compete to influence state policies, using conventional political tactics, e.g., campaign donations and lobbying.SMO #2SMO #3Interest Group #1IG #2IG #3

  • Network Recruiting for Collection ActionDense networks provide pre-existing channels for recruiting participants and micro-mobilization for collective action. Movement activists target friends, family, coworkers whose shared social identities & attitudinal affinities for movement values and goals may predispose them to participate.High-risk/cost activism raises barriers to mobilizing SM supporters: Rational decision is not to participate when perceived low success is outweighed by potentially heavy costs; e.g., police violence or losing a job.But networks can offset negative rational calculations, if people value preserving or forging strong social ties to SM adherents. To assure compliant control, religious cults often recruit weakly tied persons & force members to cut links to family and friends.

  • Mississippi Freedom SummerDoug McAdams SM recruitment model emphasized strong identification with values, prior activism, and integration in supportive networks. Evidence for this model came from 961 applicants to SNCCs 1964 MS Freedom Summer black-voter registration drive.Compared to 241 who withdrew, the 720 who went to Mississippi had more orgl affiliations, higher levels of past civil rights activity, more extensive and stronger prior ties to other Freedom Summer participants.The differences are especially pronounced in the two strong tie categories, with participants listing more than twice the number of volunteers and nearly three times the number of activists as the withdrawals. (McAdam 1986; see also McAdam 1988; Fernandez & McAdam 1988; McAdam & Fernandez 1990; McAdam and Paulsen 1993).

  • A Political-Process ModelMcAdams (1982) political-process model explains both the rise and the decline of U.S. black protest movement with three components:1) Political Opportunity: greater receptivity to change demands2) Cognitive Liberation: challengers subjective experiences of shifting political conditions giving them a new sense of efficacy3) Indigenous Organizational Strength: structural potential of challengers to mobilize & take advantage of political opportunityRapid growth 1931-45 of three types of institutions gave blacks the orgl strength needed to generate a campaign of collective insurgency in 1954-67: Black churches: ministers and their congregations Southern Black colleges: college students Southern chapters of NAACP: activists & lawyers Sit-ins coordinated thru a well-development communication network linking SBC campuses into a loosely integrated institutional network (1982:138) Andrews & Biggs (2006) event history diffusion of 1960 Southern sit-ins found SMO activist cadres played major role. But, little evidence that social networks acted as channels for diffusion among cities (athletic leagues!). Instead, news media conveyed crucial info about protests in other locales.

  • The Global Anti-Capitalist MovementDuring the 1990s, an anti-capitalist movement began challenging globalization of benefit only to developed nations & corporations. Decentralized SMO networks coordinate protests by socialists, greens, labor unions, anarchists, and indigenous peoples. They promote diverse anti-capitalist interests: privatized water rights, endangered species, child labor, forgiveness of national debts, Inspired by the Indians of Chiapas, Mexico, Peoples Global Action targets transnational institutions allegedly undermining local community control and decision-making: World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), G8 Summit, World Economic Forum, World Trade Organization (WTO), Computer-supported SMs deploy new digital technologies to coordinate actions, build networks, practice media activism, and physically manifest their emerging political ideals (Juris 2005)

  • Collective BehaviorSocial movement action is one example of diverse forms of collective behavior, including fads, rumors, strikes, panics, rubber-necking, football riots, lynch mobs, herd stampedesContemporary collective action models seek to explain how behaviors diffuse among actors in a collective context, while emphasizing how decisions to participate involve the rational choices of interdependent decision-makers. The eruption and spread of collective behaviors depends on relations within a group and on the imitators identification with the instigators.Gabriel Tarde and Gustav Le Bon tried to understand collective behaviors as mass social psychology. The Laws of Imitation and the dynamics of a group mind could explain the apparently irrational aspects of collective actions.

  • Threshold Models The decision whether to join a collective action can be analyzed as a threshold process. Derived from percolation theory, a critical threshold (tipping point) generates an aggregated critical mass: below the threshold, a collective action will fail; but if mass exceeds the threshold, collective action can grow exponentially.In a crowd, egos decision to riot depends on others actions. Although instigators start to riot before anyone else does, others join only if each perceives a specific critical N (or X%) of troublemakers. Small shifts in personal thresholds can yield diverse group outcomes. Mark Granovetters (1978) threshold model linked individuals behaviors to their perceptions of the aggregate level of action. The probability distribution of everyones thresholds determines whether an entire crowd reaches the critical mass required for rapidly escalating and widespread collective action.

  • Individual assumed to be rational, subjective expected utility maximizers. The threshold is simply that point where the perceived benefits to an individual of doing the thing in question (here joining the riot) exceed the perceived costs (p. 1422). Formal model seeks to predict, from the set of individual thresholds, the ultimate numbers of rioters and nonrioters. For example, if the large majority of on-lookers must observe more than half the crowd rioting before they would join, then the riot will fizzle.

  • Precipitating Urban RiotsThe major predictor of size & severity of 1960s urban riots was the absolute size of a citys black population (Spilerman 1976). Can thresholds explain this city-size differential?..a city has, each time a crowd gathers, the same probability of reaching this particular equilibrium [number of rioters]. If this probability is, say, .10, then we may think of each incident as a Bernoulli trial with probability of success (of a large riot) of .10. In a small city with only one incident, no riot occurs 90% of time; but in a larger city with 10 incidents, the chance of no riot falls to (.90)10 = .35, even though the distribution of thresholds is the same (Granovetter 1978)How to incorporate networks into threshold models? Lower-threshold persons mobilized by a few key alters, higher-threshold persons by large aggregate participation. Strong links mobilize participation if low thresholds, weak links mobiliz


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