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The Theory of Social Movements – American Perspectives


Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 298 Kb

str. 699-729

preuzimanja: 1.939



An attempt has been made in this work to present and
synthesise post-war American perspectives in the research of
social movements, within the framework of sociology and
theory of social movements. The first chapter deals with the
forerunners of the theory of social movements. Le Bon is
mentioned because of his influence on the Chicago School
of collective behaviourism. Special attention is given to
Rudolf Heberle, the first renowned post-war theoretician of
social movements. The classic theory of social movements is
presented through its three well-known variants: collective behaviour, the theory of mass society, and the model of
status inconsistency. Common to them all is the general
causal definition of social movements, interpreted as
irrational behaviour. The resource-mobilizational theory
emerged in answer to the appearance of new social
movements, which could no longer be interpreted from the
classic perspective of extra-institutional collective action. The
theory stemmed from Olson’s model of the rational
participant, who calculates costs and benefits before entering
collective action. Under criticism this model experienced
significant revision, while the resource-mobilizational school
became the dominant research paradigm of social
movements in America in the 1970s and 1980s. However, it
has begun to be pushed aside lately by the model of
political-process analysis, which first developed under the
aegis of the resource-mobilizational paradigm. Its
fundamental precept is that social processes indirectly affect
social protests, by restructuring power relations. Favourable
political circumstances are of crucial importance for the
development of social movements, due to which this
approach also bears the name politically-oportune. In
conclusion, the text introduces the issue of postmodern
perspectives in the theory of social movements.

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