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The Future of Social Movement Research

Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Processes

Jacquelien van Stekelenburg

Publication Year: 2013

Are the dynamics of contention changing? This is the question confronted by the contributors of this volume, among the most influential scholars in the field of social movements. The answers, arriving at a time of extraordinary worldwide turmoil, not only provide a wide-ranging and varied understanding of how social movements arise and persist, but also engender unanswered questions, pointing to new theoretical strands and fields of research.

The Future of Social Movement Research asks: How are the dynamics of contention shaped by globalization? By societies that are becoming increasingly more individualized and diverse? By the spread of new communication technologies such as social media, cell phones, and the Internet? Why do some movements survive while others dissipate? Do local and global networks differ in nature? The authors’ essays explore such questions with reference to changes in three domains of contention: the demand of protest (changes in grievances and identities), the supply of protest (changes in organizations and networks), and how these changes affect the dynamics of mobilization. In doing so, they theorize and make empirically insightful how globalization, individualization, and virtualization create new grievances, new venues for action, new action forms, and new structures of contention.

The resulting work—brought together through engaging discussions and debates between the contributors—is interdisciplinary and unusually broad in scope, constituting the most comprehensive overview of the dynamics of social movements available today.

Contributors: Marije Boekkooi, VU-U, Amsterdam; Pang Ching Bobby Chen, U of California, Merced; Donatella della Porta, European U Institute; Mario Diani, U of Trento, Italy; Jan Willem Duyvendak, U of Amsterdam; Myra Marx Ferree, U of Wisconsin–Madison; Beth Gharrity Gardner; Ashley Gromis; Swen Hutter, U of Munich; Ruud Koopmans, WZB, Berlin; Hanspeter Kriesi, U of Zurich; Nonna Mayer, National Centre for European Studies; Doug McAdam, Stanford U; John D. McCarthy, Pennsylvania State U; Debra Minkoff, Barnard College, Columbia U; Alice Motes; Pamela E. Oliver, U of Wisconsin–Madison; Francesca Polletta, U of California, Irvine; Jacomijne Prins, VU-U, Amsterdam; Patrick Rafail, Tulane U; Christopher Rootes, U of Kent, Canterbury; Dieter Rucht, Free U of Berlin; David A. Snow, U of California, Irvine; Sarah A. Soule, Stanford U; Suzanne Staggenborg, U of Pittsburgh; Sidney Tarrow, Cornell U; Verta Taylor, U of California, Santa Barbara; Marjoka van Doorn; Martijn van Zomeren, U of Groningen; Stefaan Walgrave, U of Antwerp; Saskia Welschen.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Social Movements, Protest and Contention

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-x

...The editors are grateful to the colleagues who served as reviewers of the chapters: Kenneth Andrews, Ed Amenta, Rob Benford, John Campbell, Xenia Chryssochoou, Frank den Hond, John Drury, Jennifer Earl, Bob Edwards, Doug Imig, Olivier Fillieule, Dana Fisher, Bill Gamson, Marco Giugni, Jim Jasper, Craig Jenkins, Christian Lahusen, Holly McCammon, David Meyer...

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Introduction: The Future of Social Movement Research

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pp. xi-xxii

...vigorous one in the social movement academic field and in the activist field. Take the year 2011, which was a major one for social movements: the Arab Spring; precarity demonstrations in southern Europe; the Israeli urban camp demonstrations, culminating in the largest demonstration in the history of the country; and finally, the Occupy movement. What is remarkable, however...

I. Grievances and Identities: The Demand Side of Participation

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1. The Dynamics of Demand

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pp. 3-16

...The demand side of protest concerns the characteristics of a social movement’s mobilization potential. A movement’s mobilization potential can be characterized in terms of its demographic and political composition; in terms of collective identities, shared grievances, and shared emotions; in terms of...

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2. Is the Internet Creating New Reasons to Protest?

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pp. 17-36

...Social movement scholars have been wary of granting the Internet transformative political power. To be sure, the Internet and other digital technologies have changed the form and probably the amount of protest. Movement scholars have documented activists’ use of cell phones, e-mail, text messages, chat...

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3. Social Movement Participation in the Global Society: Identity, Networks, and Emotions

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pp. 37-58

...Research interest in the social psychology and motivational dynamics of social movements has changed dramatically over the last thirty years. The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of the resource mobilization and political process perspectives. These approaches shifted attention away from the social psychological and group processes involved in collective action that had concerned collective...

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4. “Protest against Whom?”: The Role of Collective Meaning Making in Politicization

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pp. 59-78

...The process of politicization of collective identities is crucial for our understanding of collective action. Research has demonstrated that the more a collective identity politicizes, the more willing group members will be to act collectively on behalf of their group (for a complete review, see Van Stekelenburg and...

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Discussion: Opening the Black Box of Dynamics in Theory and Research on the Demand Side of Protest

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pp. 79-92

...Discussing the chapters in this section of this book has been an inspiring enterprise. As an experimental social psychologist studying collective action against collective disadvantage, I particularly appreciate the broad, diverse, and insightful contributions that all chapters make to our knowledge of when, why, and how people protest. For instance, Klandermans (chapter 1) provides a thoughtful overview of the dynamic demand side of protest, whereas Taylor...

II. Organizations and Networks: The Supply Side of Contention

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5. The Changing Supply Side of Mobilization: Questions for Discussion

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pp. 95-106

...Three interrelated processes of social change described by social analysts of (post)modernity and globalization affect the supply side of contention: (1) the emergence of “light” communities, which result from processes of individualization and globalization and are facilitated by the proliferation of the Internet; (2) the shift from identity politics to light identities and issue-oriented politics...

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6. Bringing Organizational Studies Back into Social Movement Scholarship

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pp. 107-124

...Since at least the 1970s, organizations and social movement scholars have recognized the complementary nature of their respective fields, and as a result, many of the central questions in each field have been enriched via cross-pollination between these two distinct areas. For example, some of the most important...

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7. Organization and Community in Social Movements

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pp. 125-144

...mobilization of collective action (Sampson et al. 2005). Yet scholars recognize that SMOs are not the only organizational forms that support movement mobilization; other important mobilizing structures include social networks, cultural groups, movement habitats within institutions, movement-related commercial establishments, coalitions, alternative institutions, and more established organizations that become movement allies at times, such as unions...

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8. Organizational Fields and Social Movement Dynamics

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pp. 145-168

...Some time ago, Minkoff and McCarthy (2005, 290–92) identified the study of movements as organizational fields as a key area of research in the recent past, yet one in which the link between social movement and organizational studies had not been exploited as it might and should have been (see also...

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9. Social Movement Structures in Action: Conceptual Propositions and Empirical Illustration

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pp. 169-190

...Time and again, it has been shown that social movements are not amorphous masses but rest on some sort of organization. This insight was shared, with the exception of early mass psychologists, by almost all students of social movements, as exemplified by Lewis Killian’s (1964, 442) definition: “A social movement is a collectivity acting with some continuity, not short-lived collectivity...

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Discussion: The Changing Supply Side of Mobilization: Impressions on a Theme

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pp. 191-202

...The chapters in this section, including the introductory comments by Roggeband and Duyvendak (chapter 5), demonstrate the continued importance of organizations (loosely defined) in our theoretical models of social movement processes as well as in the actual trajectories of social movements themselves...

III. Dynamics of Mobilization

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10. Changing Mobilization of Individual Activists?

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pp. 205-216

...Mobilization is the process through which a demand for collective action present in a certain community is met by a supply of collective action events staged by social movements. As participation by individuals is a necessary condition for the existence of social movements and protest, mobilization of participants is key to understanding social movements. The centrality of the...

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11. Mobilizing for Change in a Changing Society

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pp. 217-234

...To explain the occurrence of protest events, social movement research has focused on external structural factors such as resource mobilization or political opportunities. However, protest events do not appear out of the blue. Some people have to take the initiative to start organizing and mobilizing an event...

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12. Ethnicity, Repression, and Fields of Action in Movement Mobilization

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pp. 235-262

...European and American studies of protest came into dialogue through the overt efforts of bridge builders, particularly Bert Klandermans. These studies focused on the dynamics of protest mobilization in the democratic contexts of North America and western Europe and developed cumulative research showing how mobilization actually happens in political and organizational...

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13. Identity Dilemmas, Discursive Fields, Identity Work, and Mobilization: Clarifying the Identity–Movement Nexus

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pp. 263-280

...to encompass both identity-related issues that confront scholars examining the identity–movement nexus and activists tussling with the strategic use of identity, although in this chapter, I focus on the former. That is, I examine a set of identity dilemmas that encumber our understanding of the identity–movement nexus because they are...

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14. Movements of the Left, Movements of the Right Reconsidered

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pp. 281-298

...Social movement scholars tend to neglect the existence of different channels of mobilization, which leads them to misconstruct the changing dynamics of mobilization in a global age (McAdam and Tarrow, chapter 16). Usually, social movement scholars focus on the protest arena and do not pay much attention to the electoral channel (where parties link citizens to the decision-making...

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Discussion: Mobilization and the Changing and Persistent Dynamics of Political Participation

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pp. 299-312

...We live in interesting times. Even in established liberal democracies, societies and politics are changing. As the institutions, economic conditions, and social strictures of the mid-twentieth century receded into history, these more affluent societies are said to have become more fluid and more participatory. Certainly...

IV. The Changing Context of Contention

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15. The End of the Social Movement as We Know It? Adaptive Challenges in Changed Contexts

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pp. 315-324

...These trends—some of them more than others—pose important challenges to social movements as we have known them during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One of the lasting lessons of Charles Tilly’s work (e.g., Tilly 1995, 2004) has been that the rise of the social movement and the repertoires of protest that have been historically linked to it were intimately...

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16. Social Movements and Elections: Toward a Broader Understanding of the Political Context of Contention

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pp. 325-346

...The study of politics has long been marked by a stark disciplinary divide. Forty years ago, the study of formal political institutions was seen as the proper province of political science, while research on social movements was left to psychologists or “social psychologists whose intellectual tools prepare him to...

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17. Social Movements, Power, and Democracy: New Challenges, New Challengers, New Theories?

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pp. 347-368

...Neoliberal globalization is changing the nature of the state, so also altering the contexts in which social movements operate, thereby forcing us to rethink our concepts and theories. In this process, if there are emerging challenges to social movements, there are, however, also opportunities they can exploit...

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18. Recent Trends in Public Protest in the United States: The Social Movement Society Thesis Revisited

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pp. 369-396

...In stark contrast with trends in many Western European nations, evidence suggests that public protest participation in the United States during recent decades has been far less common than earlier, suggesting caution in concluding that the United States has become a social movement society. The strong thesis that the United States has become a social movement society rests on...

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19. The “Contentious French” Revisited

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pp. 397-418

...Comparing declared levels of protest activity in the 1999 European and World Values surveys, Russell J. Dalton (2008, 50) describes the above-average propensity of the French to engage in challenging actions: “In just the single year following the 1999 French survey, truckers opposed to fuel increases blockaded...

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Discussion: Meaning and Movements in the New Millennium: Gendering Democracy

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pp. 419-428

...With so many dimensions to the changes in the terrain of political contention today, it is hardly surprising that each essay in part IV identifies these central challenges differently. Yet all focus fairly narrowly on material conditions and organizational actors. Della Porta (chapter 17) argues that state institutions, and thus mobilizations, are eclipsed by transnational ones that address the...

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pp. 429-438

...Have the dynamics of contention changed? This is the question that the social movement scholars who contributed to this volume were asked. The easy answer is that we don’t know, as we haven’t done the proper longitudinal research. At the same time, it is hard to believe that the dynamics of contention have not changed. Over the past years, the world has seemed in constant...


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pp. 439-442


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pp. 443-473

E-ISBN-13: 9780816686551
E-ISBN-10: 0816686556
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816686544

Page Count: 496
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Social Movements, Protest and Contention