Actions

Theories of social movements

From Baripedia


In the literature on political behaviour, for a long time, social movements have been considered as something that is not part of it. Voting was seen as the only legitimate form of political behaviour on the part of citizens and social movements were something else. As a result, the literature on social movements developed independently of the literature and theories of electoral behaviour. In recent years, there have been increasing efforts to make connections between the literature, and social movements have been recognized as one of the ways in which citizens can mobilize.

In social movement theory, two subsets can be distinguished. One is at the micro level, that is, theories, explanations and approaches that attempt to explain individual engagement in non-electoral forms of political participation. These are forms in which citizens can engage. The second subset concerns collective actors, which is an independently developed theory.

There is no consensus among specialists as to what a social movement is. It is much easier to define a party as a political organization that enters into an electoral game (vote seeking) and with a view to taking power (office seeking). Parties are formal organizations and therefore easier to define. Social movements are much fuzzier actors, they are not organizations. There is an element of conceptual vagueness that makes definition more difficult. The comparative literature on social movements is growing in scope and importance.

Relationship between structural change and collective action[edit | edit source]

Comportement politique relation entre changements structurels et action collective 1.png

In The Contentious French published in 1989, Charles Tilly retraces the path of participation and non-electoral behaviour, thus the emergence of social movements, or more precisely the transformation of the repertoires of collective action.[8] Tilly traces the changes in the repertoires of collective action from the 16th century in France. What we call social movements today are the result of a long historical process of transformation of the repertoires of collective action, which is understood as the ways that are available in a certain institutional and cultural context, the modalities that are available to citizens to protest and assert their claims outside the vote. Tilly puts the vote in the repertoire, so the repertoire of collective action is all the ways that citizens have at their disposal in order to assert their claims. According to Tilly, social movements are a particular form of collective action that has emerged as a result of this process and is historically and spatially localized.

Thus, social movements were born in the nineteenth century and more precisely in England as a result of this process, which depends on two major structural factors that explain the transformations in the repertoire of collective action: the emergence of capitalism (1), which are the transformations in modes of production in Europe; and the process of formation of the nation-state (2). Rokkan's two great revolutions that gave rise to the cleavages appear; we find the notion of cleavage in this type of narrative in relation to the emergence of social movements.

These great structural revolutions brought about changes in France, England and other countries, in interests and identities. The emergence of capitalism has created new interests and new collective identities such as with the proletariat or the bourgeoisie. These two great processes and in particular the process of formation of the nation-state has created new opportunities for mobilization and targets for mobilization. Finally, these two great processes have also transformed the organization of society by creating, for example, the social classes as we know them today.

These major transformations then produced transformations in the repertoires of collective action. For Tilly, collective action has moved from a "reactive" to a "proactive" repertoire; that is, movements or citizens do not simply react to decisions made by local or other authorities, but organize themselves to take proactive initiatives. The repertoire moves from 'competition' to 'conflict'. It is no longer simply local competition between different groups, but collective action that is part of a real social conflict where there are opposing collective interests and where the success of a collective interest or mobilization around a collective success implies the loss of the opposing collective interest or interests, referring to the idea of social conflict. We are moving from a contestation of a spontaneous repertoire to a contestation of an organized repertoire, which is that citizens are beginning to organize themselves, to form social organizations, but also political parties, and we are moving from a local contestation to a national contestation. Tilly talks about a nationalization of collective action and social protest about social movements as a form of nationalized collective action.

Social movements are a special form of protest politics that emerges from the transformation from the old to the new repertoire when the concerted action of capital and coercion has transformed these modalities. The idea is that the social movement emerged as a set of forms of collective action on the part of citizens that became modular.

Aspects that characterize a social movement[edit | edit source]

According to Tilly, social movements are a particular form of collective action or repertoire of collective action having emerged through a long historical process that depends on the two major structural transformations of society in Europe that have produced changes in the interests, organisations and opportunities of citizens in order to assert their demands.

If we look at this from an analytical point of view, we still have to define what a social movement is, which is relatively complicated. There are several definitions of social movements in the literature. Della Porta and Diani found four elements that characterize social movements:[9]

  1. Networks of informal relations: this is the "organization" aspect with the idea that people participating in a movement are organized, representing a non-formalized system of relations between individuals.
  2. Shared beliefs and solidarity: these actors who are part of informal relationship networks, in order to constitute a social movement, must be based on a certain set of shared values, beliefs and a set of collective identity. There is the idea that when we observe something, thinking that it is a movement, it could be a movement or something else. In other words, a movement does not overlap with the protest actions that we see on the street.
  3. Conflictual collective action: a movement must be part of a social conflict. This is the idea of the protest politics of a social movement.
  4. Recourse to protest: there must be a network of informal solidarities based on shared beliefs and identities on the basis of conflictual collective action or social conflict through forms of mobilization that can be called protest, which are non-electoral forms of mobilization.

Della Porta and Diani's definition of a social movement is that mobilizations are mainly informal networks of interactions based on shared beliefs and solidarities that mobilize on conflicting themes through the frequent but not exclusive use of different forms of protest.

Typology of social movements[edit | edit source]

A distinction can be made between a minority historical approach in the literature and analytical approaches.

The historical approach is based on essentially European theories that have tried, like Tilly, to show how movements are the fruit and product of major structural and social transformations in society that have led to the emergence of political parties, but also to the emergence of social movements and forms of non-electoral collective action.

There is an interesting distinction between three paradigms that could be likened to the notion of cleavage. These are three major paradigms that have given rise to three types of movements that have succeeded one another in Europe. These three paradigms are the authority, distribution and lifestyle paradigms.

Comportement politique typologie des mouvements sociaux 1.png

The paradigm of authority corresponding to the centre-periphery divide as proposed by Rokkan, and the mobilizations that have relied on this paradigm are essentially movements and demands related to the control of political resources, which is the idea of resistance to the formation of the nation-state by entities or local governments that have tried to oppose it. The centralization of the nation-state has meant that there has been a loss of power by local entities, which has led to resistance.

The second major paradigm is the paradigm of redistribution, which is a question of economic resources, with in particular the emergence of the workers' movement that has emerged as a result of this paradigm and which has mobilized around this paradigm.

The lifestyle paradigm has given rise to the new social movements, which are movements that have mobilized not for political control or for the control or redistribution of economic resources, but around lifestyle issues and cultural claims.

This is a rather interesting way of historically showing the successive emergence of social divisions and fractures, as well as cleavages that have led to the emergence of forms of collective action, but which deal with different issues. This also allows us to classify the types of movement. It should also be noted that to each movement corresponds a counter-movement.

With globalization, there might be a fourth paradigm today that would be linked to this North-South divide on a global scale, which could, for example, explain the emergence of anti-globalization movements.

Social Movement Theories[edit | edit source]

The historical explanations that have been proposed mainly by European authors relate the emergence of different types of social movements to structural transformations in society. Rokkan in particular has left his mark in this type of reflection.

In the United States, rather than asking why certain social movements emerge, they have focused on the question of how movements mobilize. There have been several theories of social movements. There are the theories of collective behaviour, the theory of resource mobilization, and the theory of political process. Sometimes, in English, collective movement theories are called breakdown theories; they are also called grieves theories. Political process theory is often called political opportunity theory.

As with voting theories, some authors say that there are only two main explanations, namely a breakdown theory and an explanation in terms of resources and opportunities. These approaches followed one another over time, first with the theories of collective behaviour in the 1940s and 1950s alongside behaviourism, and then, from the 1960s onwards, there was the emergence of the theory of resource mobilisation and the political process.

There is a distinction between the collective behaviour approach from the mobilization approach and the political process approach. The reflection on how to explain social movements and more generally the phenomena of collective action in European sociology goes back to the founders of sociology. There are two main ways of looking at this, which are two great perspectives that are an approach that comes under Marxist thought with approaches that look rather from the angle of class conflict looking at collective action as the expression of a social conflict that is created around a cleavage.

Just as conflict can be expressed within institutional arenas through the formation of parties and through the mobilization of parties within the institutional arena, so too can such conflict be expressed externally through social movements or collective action.

A second major approach derives from the thinking of other founders of sociology, as with Durkheim, who helped create the paradigm of methodological holism. Approaches that fall within this line of thought refer rather to the idea of social solidarity and the rupture of this social solidarity that takes place from time to time and creates situations of social anomie. It is the idea of the rupture of a social equilibrium which is the normatively correct situation. There is a strong normative connotation in this type of theory, which has moreover inspired all functionalist thinking. This idea of anomie is that social movements and forms of collective action are the result of this rupture that has been created within a given society.

It is precisely on the basis of this type of reflection that the first attempts to explain collective action, that the first efforts made by some French psycho-sociologists focused on the idea of rupture and on the action of crowds. These early attempts are called crowd theories, where by crowd we meant a whole range of different theories, ranging from phenomena of political protest to forms of deviance, including what is now called hooliganism. It was a mixture of phenomena that were all lumped together and were seen as expressions of crowds that were manipulable and manipulated by certain leaders. The best known name is Gustave Lebon, but also Gabriel Tarde who formulated the first theories 120 years ago. These theories also focused on psychological phenomena of frustration, so in this type of explanation, the people who engage in social movements would be the frustrated people in incitement of social anomie who try to express this anomie through collective behaviour.

The first of these three approaches was developed by a certain American sociology of the functionalist type. In the 1940s and 1950s. These are the theories of collective behaviour. By collective behaviour, these researchers put a whole bunch of phenomena. This theory was explicitly inspired by crowd theories, which are the European Durkheimian theories.

Explanatory diagram of the theory of collective behaviour[edit | edit source]

To put it very simply, collective behaviour would be the result of a disturbed psychological state, situations of frustration that would be the result of rapid social change. Individuals would be a little lost and they would have to react in a certain way through collective action phenomena that are often radical or even violent. This theory wanted to explain violent collective phenomena.

Comportement politique schéma explicatif de la théorie du comportement collectif 1.png

These theories are also often referred to as the theories of frustration or even relative frustration because the idea is that it is through the fact that individuals in a certain social system feel frustrated and that is why they go into some sort of collective form of behaviour.

One of the founders of this type of thinking is Niel Spencer who formulated the generalized belief theory. He proposed the idea of a number of factors that must be present for collective behaviour to be expected to occur. This is what he calls value added theory. It is the additive model where each explanatory factor adds to the probability that a social movement will emerge. The concept of social movement came later.

There are six conditions that must be met in order to see the emergence of collective behavioural phenomena. There is structural conductivity, that is, the social structure must be such that this behaviour can emerge, there are preconditions that must be present and perhaps among these preconditions are structural tensions, which are theories that emphasize the fact that there are social tensions at a certain point in time that are created, and it is as a result of these social tensions that we see the emergence of a phenomenon of collective behaviour of a radical or violent type. Generalized belief is the fact of having shared ideas about the source of the problem being related to social tension. There is the possibility of factors, i.e. there must be an element that triggers emotions. There is mobilization for action, which is the fact that there has to be individuals who encourage others to join the action; in other words, there has to be leadership in a movement that can mobilize. We see the link of this type of explanation with the theory of crowds, which is that there are crowds that can be manipulated by agitators. The last factor is the failure of social control, which is the fact that the action of the agents of social control must be weak so that action is not prevented.

The idea is an accumulation of all these factors. As soon as these six factors are present, the probability of a social movement emerging becomes very high. When one or more factors are missing, it becomes less likely.

William Kornhauser is a very important sociologist of the 1960s and among other things created the theory of mass society. It's part of this way of thinking about what can explain why there are movements. It's an approach that is typically Durkheimian because the concept of anomie is at the heart precisely because of the increasing isolation of individuals within this mass society that is modern society. This isolation of individuals creates a social anomie that would make it more likely that someone who is in a situation of anomie would engage in a movement and again engage in a radical or even violent movement. It is in this mass society characterized by the loss of the social ties that create social integration, we see kinship mirrored by social capital theories that postulate the opposite in a certain sense, but also emphasize social integration, the loss or increase of the ties that connect individuals in a society. For Kornhauser, the loss of this bond produces participation. In social capital theories, it is the very existence of these ties that explains why people participate in politics. We can also see a kinship bond even though the literature has not explicitly made this link. Both emphasize the fact that it is the social bond that explains participation and, in particular, the phenomena of collective behaviour as defined by this type of theory, in its presence or absence. According to Kornhauser, in this mass society, individuals become more manipulable by other individuals. The mass society is characterized on the one hand by the loss of the social bond and by the increasing manipulability of individuals a little lost in this society characterized by isolation.

These two theories mentioned are two theories that can be described as structural, i.e. they are concerned with the aggregate level or the collective level, i.e. they are at a macro or meso level of analysis.

Theories of collective behaviour based on the frustration-aggression hypothesis[edit | edit source]

There are many theories or models of explanation that are part of the same approach to frustration theory or theories of political behaviour that are at the individual level and that draw heavily on some work in psychology. These are theories that have been based on the idea of frustration - aggression, which is the idea that you are frustrated for one reason or another.

These theories are based on two aspects. One aspect is related to the growth of expectations and the gap between people's aspirations which are natural and tend to grow and a reality which sometimes in crisis situations does not in fact correspond to these expectations. There is a gap between these expectations that continue to grow and a reality that at times goes against these expectations. The theory of the rise and fall of expectations goes exactly in this direction. In theory, there are the expectations of individuals that continue to rise, but at a certain point there is a fall in objective reality that does not allow these expectations to be met and this creates frustration and then aggression. It is the same for the theories of increasing expectations, which is relative and the other absolute. Another important element are the theories that refer to the so-called reference group theory. That is to say that individuals compare themselves with other people who are close, but in a slightly different situation and often in a slightly better situation, this comparison makes it possible to fall into a situation of frustration and therefore this theory is based on the idea of comparison with reference groups. The best known is the theory of relative deprivation or deprivation that was formulated by Ted Robert Gurr. In the 1970s, he published Why men rebel which explains the ontological design in relation to the object of study. There's not the idea that there has to be a social conflict in order to define a movement, so if people mobilize and act a little bit radically, that's collective behaviour. The theory of relative deprivation is to say that people tend to compare themselves and are somehow losing out in that comparison. You get frustrated and you try to bring balance back to the psychological level through forms of collective action. This notion of balance is fundamental in this type of explanation because there is a very strong normative bias which says that there is a good situation, which is either a social balance, that is, at the level of the social system, or a psychological balance at the level of the individual. All these phenomena of collective behaviour are aimed at recovering this balance lost because of rapid social change or because of the fact that expectations are growing and reality is not, either because we compare ourselves to someone is that we think we can be in this social situation and we are not and we become frustrated. It's a bit the same thing with downward mobility and the theory of incongruous status. We have to remember that there is the idea of frustration and aggression and that all the reflection is based on three ideas with a balance that is the right situation and towards which individuals must and want to tend (1), this is done at the level of expectations and comparison of expectations with reality (2), and there is the idea of comparing oneself to someone else with the theory of reference groups (3).

From the end of the 1960s, the theories of collective behaviour were at first completely criticized, particularly the very idea that the essential cause of collective action is to be found in disorganization, social crises, social tensions, individual psychological anomie and frustration, and therefore the idea that all this can explain collective behaviour as a spontaneous and reactive and often irrational phenomenon. Often, in this type of explanation, what we call social movements would be irrational phenomena by people who are frustrated for one reason or another and who engage in radical or even violent forms in order to recover a certain psychological or social balance. The idea that the essential cause is in this anomie has been strongly criticized.

What is the consequence of saying that social movements are irrational phenomena? The consequence is that there is a clear separation between rational institutional, electoral and good politics, and irrational politics or irrational deviant behaviour. Some of these authors, at least the first ones, were inspired by sociological works on deviance or criminality.

A third criticism is that this category and this concept of collective behaviour includes too many different things, namely social movements, crowds, tumults, uprisings, forms of panic, rumours, for this type of explanation, they were all the same thing. It is difficult to defend today that the same explanations for demonstrations can be the same factors that explain why, at certain times, there are phenomena of violence in one place.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a new generation of researchers who began to take an interest in what are now called social movements. These researchers were involved in certain movements, including the American movements that ranged from the freedom of speech movement in Berkley in 1964 to the end of the 1960s. This is a group of young people who studied sociology in the United States, who were interested in certain forms and engaged in social movements, what we call the American new left. They read the work of these people and said that the people mobilized in the freedom of speech movement are frustrated people who are dissatisfied with their situation, who behave irrationally and become virulent because they compare themselves with people close to them. For Professor Giugni, it was this engagement and this gap between their own experience and the characterization that existing theories made of this engagement in non-electoral movements or forms of protest, and it is from this gap that other theories, and in particular the theories of resource mobilization, emerged.

Resource mobilization theory has further disrupted this type of explanation and has completely sidelined the type of explanation that was in vogue at the time. The first work in resource mobilization theory dates back to 1966.

Explanatory diagram of resource mobilization theory[edit | edit source]

What does resource mobilization theory say? Each time it is a set of theories, but there is still an underlying pattern. The language of what we want to explain has changed, it's no longer collective behaviour that encompasses different forms of behaviour or collective action, but something more specific, it's social movements or even socio-political movements. The term political is fundamental because the first major upheaval that has been made by this type of explanation is that what we now call social movements have begun to be recognized as forms of political commitment by other means, that is to say by other means than voting. The idea of the irrationality of collective action has been completely sidelined or reversed. It became rational engagement by rational actors who engaged in some form of protest or mobilization or political behaviour in a general sense other than simply going to vote on a regular basis. At the outset, there is always the idea that there is social change and that ultimately it is social change that explains why there is emergence, but the mechanism is completely different.

Comportement politique schéma explicatif de la théorie de la mobilisation des ressources 1.png

In this schema, social change produces social movements, which helps to explain the emergence of social movements, but through another mechanism that is the opposite of that of Kornhauser and mass society. It is not mobilization, but organization; it is not the loss of social ties, but social solidarity.

The two essential elements in the theory of resource mobilization is that in order to explain the emergence of social movement phenomena, there has to be a certain degree of organization. By organization, we can understand formal organizations such as political parties or interest groups, and there is a third type of political organization that acts in a third arena that is not the electoral arena or the intermediate arena, but the arena outside the political system and is therefore the arena of social movements. It requires a certain kind of organization, organizations, but above all social links and networks that explain why or make it more likely that a social movement will emerge. At the grassroots level, there is always discontent, but it's really in the mechanism that this changes. On the other hand, these organizations need to be able to mobilize a certain amount of resources. It is through the mobilization of resources that discontent, which is the product of social change, is created.

For Wilson, "since societies are rarely stable, in equilibrium or without tensions, because change is constant, the forces that have the potential to produce social movements are always present to some degree". In other words, there are always enough grievances in society for there to be the potential and for a movement to emerge. For resource mobilization theorists, you can't explain because there are always disgruntled people, there are always people with grievances and yet there are not always social movements and people don't mobilize all the time so you have to explain what makes these disgruntled people mobilize. This factor is precisely the fact that these actors manage to gather enough resources and allocate them to political commitment and mobilization.

The fundamental premises of this type of explanation are the importance of the strategic dimension of collective action (1), social movements are rational collective efforts to achieve common goals, but also the importance of social organization (2), whether formal or informal, as a condition for collective action, i.e. the rejection of the idea that discontent and disorganization are the main factors in explaining mobilization. Finally, there is the importance of the availability and allocation of material and symbolic resources (3) that are important to be able to mobilize. In other words, it is not the most disadvantaged and isolated people who are most likely to mobilize, it is the people with more resources who mobilize.

In summary, from the perspective of resource mobilization theory, collective action is not a reaction or adaptation to a crisis situation, but a common and rational effort to achieve policy goals. This effort is all the more likely and will be all the more successful the more resources and organization social movements have at their disposal. There is a shift from irrational actors to organized proactive rational actors, which is the strategic dimension. So, in the end, a theory of solidarity replaces a theory in terms of rupture.

The theory of breakdown has come back into fashion strongly since the crisis of 2008 stimulated by the protest phenomena that took place. With the economic crisis, there has been a rise in movements, so discontent is indeed what explains it. But perhaps behind this relationship, there is something a little different, with on the one hand the levels of resources that these different movements have beforehand. It may be something else. Maybe this economic crisis has produced changes at the political-institutional level and maybe that is what explains the emergence of the movements and not directly the crisis and the discontent that the crisis has produced in some people. In other words, perhaps the relationship between economic crisis and the mobilization of these movements such as the indignant ones for example is what is called a spurious relationship.

Explanatory diagram of the theory of the political process[edit | edit source]

Already, in the early 1970s and especially from the early 1980s, some researchers, practically everyone, and especially sociologists and political scientists, were involved in this type of alternative reflection. Among them, a certain number began to think that the emphasis is on endogenous factors in the sense that what we are looking at is the capacity that social groups have to gather resources, mobilize them and use them in collective action. We are only looking at those who mobilize. There are also external resources that are important. A question that has emerged is whether institutions do not also play a role. Social movements are politics by other means and therefore another way of doing politics, and if you do politics, you are confronted in one way or another with the institutional context, including parties. There are a number of researchers who have begun to put into context and also to look at the role of what we could call external resources, which are not only the resources that groups manage to mobilize, but also external resources in terms of alliances with political parties.

This is what we call or what has been called the political process approach. Mcdonald developed a critique of classical theories emphasizing the role of the political and institutional context and where he saw the explanation of social movements as the explanation of a broader political process, which are the movements that are part of a real political process just like parties, interest groups and other forms of organization. A process really characterizes the type of explanation by which we have to go saying that social movements are political actors that are part of a process.

Comportement politique schéma explicatif de la théorie du processus politique 1.png

The basic pattern is that social movement can produce the emergence of social movements and can make the emergence of social movements more likely, but the mechanism is still different. It is not frustration and anomie, nor is it the capacity of social groups to gather resources or to invest them in mobilization, but it is mainly through a restructuring of power relations within institutional arenas. It is through this mechanism that the theory or approach of this process produces realignments or misalignments that strongly influence what happens outside these arenas. Obviously, they influence and are the result of electoral political behaviour, but not only that, they have an impact on what happens on the street in the sense of social mobilization.

In other words, the institutional context is decisive. In this context, or to characterize this context, we use the concept of the structure of political opportunities, which finds its full scope in the theory of social movements.

The structure of political opportunities is a concept that has been used to characterize those elements of the institutional context that can influence, increase or decrease the chances that a social movement will emerge. The concept of political opportunity structure, which has been developed by several authors, does not really make the consensus as to what we mean or which elements of the opportunity structure are the most important. The different authors who subscribe to this approach have qualified as elements of the political opportunity structure that can influence social movements on 53 different aspects.

Aspects of the structure of political opportunities[edit | edit source]

Researchers have said that among these 53 aspects, many are similar and can be reduced to four broad dimensions that can even be reduced to three, which characterize a bit what we mean by political opportunities. This is a way of clarifying the idea that the institutional context plays a role for mobilization and social movements.

The first dimension is perhaps the one that has been most often studied, which is the degree of relative openness and closure of the institutionalized political system. Behind each of these broad dimensions there is a range of indicators. The idea is that some political systems are characterized as more open or more closed at the institutional level. Typically, the Swiss political system has been characterized as an open political system in the sense of structuring open opportunities compared to the French, where France with a strong state is characterized as a closed political system. The openness of the Swiss system is given by federalism as the multiplication of access points that movements can find to make demands, but also the possibility of finding allies or openness in terms of direct democracy. What we want to explain in general through this approach is notably the emergence or not of movements, and especially the forms that mobilization takes. These are studies that have been made in Europe where different structures of opportunities have been compared and, depending on the characteristics of the structure of opportunities, predictions and hypotheses have been made regarding the presence of movements, the radicalism of mobilizations on the possibilities of impact or success of these mobilizations. In the literature, we often find this terminology of opening and closing with a whole debate and a whole series of criticisms.

The stability and instability of political alignments is that the stability of political alignments offers opportunities for mobilization. It is possible to find allies in institutional arenas. So the third dimension is the presence and absence of allies within political elites. It is possible to speak of three dimensions because these two dimensions can be grouped together, as they all refer to the configuration of power within institutional arenas.

There is the capacity and propensity of the state to exercise repression with the idea that a repressive state is a more closed state and therefore it creates a certain type of mobilization and more radical mobilizations, but also the fact that there is strong repression being like a form of anticipation on the part of people who want to mobilize creating demobilization. In this case, there will probably be fewer people who are ready to demonstrate than if we know that the police will not intervene. This partly explains the interactions if there is mobilization, but in terms of anticipation, it can play a role in mobilization.

For David Mayer, another important element that should be conceptualized as part of the structure of political opportunities is public policy. Policies that are put in place by the state are also an opportunity or not to mobilize.

This became the dominant paradigm in the 1980s and 1990s so much so that some authors have talked about a hegemonic paradigm. This type of explanatory factor has been used in two ways in a static and comparative way, i.e. we have compared political systems characterized by opportunity structures and we try to show how these differences in the degree of opening or closing of opportunity structures can explain and lead to differences in the amount of mobilization and forms of mobilization. In particular, the Americans have worked in a dynamic and longitudinal way through the concept of the window of opportunity. They have tried to show how, for example, an election can try to open windows of opportunity where mobilizations can fit in and thus mobilize. This is done especially in terms of an analysis of a country to try to explain the fluctuations that a movement can have.

Charles Tilly defined political opportunities as coherent signals, but not necessarily formal or permanent, at the national level, signals that are given to social or political actors that encourage or discourage them to use their internal resources to form their social movements. We see the close link between the theory of resource organization and the theory of the political process because we speak of internal resources as a precondition for the emergence of a mobilization or movement.

There have been a number of scholars from very different intellectual and research traditions who have begun to criticize these approaches for their structural biases. There have been two main approaches that have tried to put culture at the centre. There were already researchers, including sociologists, working on it. One of the dimensions that defines a movement is the identity dimension, but that has been forgotten. Culture defines the movement, it's something that has to be there, but we don't deal with that.

New social movements[edit | edit source]

There were two approaches, one European and one American. The first is the theory of the new movements, which will try to explain why at a certain point in time there was a certain type of movement in Europe called a "new social movement" that mobilized itself above all not around questions of resource mobilization, but around a cultural game with questions related to quality of life and self-expression. They have tried to show how new conflicts and cleavages have emerged. This theory places strong emphasis on the emergence of new cleavages and new identities. It is a theory that draws heavily on Inglehart's work on post-materialism. With the theory of postmaterialism, there were changes during the Glorious Thirty, when there was the emergence of postmaterialist values. So we try to explain the emergence of these movements by this great transformation in the orientations of values in European societies. It is in this sense that the cultural element is strongly present in this type of explanation.

It is a set of theories that has developed completely separately from the other theories because the other theories that have developed are the theories that have tried to develop social movements in general. It is a very specific theory that is historically contextualized.

Frameworks for collective action[edit | edit source]

Americans have begun to reflect on the framing that comes from Goffman and his book Frame analysis published in 1974 where he introduced the term.[10][11][12] The concept is used in various fields, particularly in social movement theory.

Some authors such as David Snow or William Gamson have strongly emphasized that social problems must become real social problems and that certain issues must become real social problems and therefore become political issues so that people can mobilize around or on the basis of these issues and problems.

For the framing theory, there is someone who has to present things in a certain way and show potentially mobilizable people that wage inequalities between men and women, for example, are a problem and that something has to be done to solve this problem.

In social movement theory, there is the theory of collective action frameworks, which are the ways of culturally presenting issues. Grievance theories of collective behaviour are often linked to framing by saying that it is true that grievances are important, but that they need to be seen as grievances. In order for this perception to occur, someone needs to engage in framing tasks.

These authors distinguish between diagnostic, prognostic and motivational frameworks. There needs to be a diagnosis of the problem, whether someone says, for example, that the unequal treatment is due to the fact that companies are acting in a neo-liberal way or that the state is not intervening. We need a diagnosis of the problem, then we need a prognostic framework that proposes solutions and there are activities or framework tasks called motivational tasks, that is to say, we need to ensure, through a certain social construction of an issue, that people are motivated to get involved. This is what Olson called the problem of collective action. Perhaps one way to deflect the problem of collective action is the fact that there is someone who tries and manages to motivate people to mobilize even without selective incentives. In other words, a framework for collective action could be a selective incentive.

When we talk about the processes of framing theories and frameworks for collective action, we focus on three elements. Snow's approach emphasizes that it is a discursive process with the role of discourses at stake, but it is also a strategic process in this option, that is, social movement organizations or political entrepreneurs strategically use certain formulas. The idea is that there is a political leadership that tries to mobilize a mass, a population or groups especially through the correct use of certain formulas and discourses. It is also a contested process. In the public arena, there is always a struggle between executives that is a competition. The role of the media is crucial in this type of theory. The framing process takes place in the public domain.

Others talk about three types of framing and important cultural dimensions to explain collective action. He talks about identity frame, which refers to the literature on identity, so there has to be an identity. This can be seen as an explanatory factor. It talks about the injustice frame, which is that you have to perceive an injustice and therefore an actor who is the source of that injustice. Finally, the agency frame is discussed, which is that actors must be aware of their ability to change things, which is the perception that actors have that their actions have an effect. We could make a link with the literature on electoral behaviour and on the blame attribution which is the fact of attributing certain responsibilities for certain situations to actors and particularly institutional actors. There is a very strong link that is not made in the literature. Initially, the literature on electoral behaviour and social movements did not speak until recently.

Contestation Policy Synthesis Template[edit | edit source]

In a somewhat ecumenical way, one could say that the policy of protest over social movements is the result of social change, but you have to take into account social change that produces discontent and then you need mobilization structures, political opportunities as well as framing processes and everything that can explain why there is mobilization.

Comportement politique modèle de synthèse de la politique contestataire 1.png

Factors of individual engagement in social movements[edit | edit source]

The literature is somewhat divided in two, with a literature that is somewhat at the collective level and aggregated with social movements as a collective actor, but there is also a whole literature on individual engagement in social movements. Obviously, there are similarities between these approaches, but these are two families of work that are sometimes even distinct.

The work often focuses on socio-cultural characteristics with traditional political sociology applied to the movement. There are the social networks, which is that the fact that one is inserted into social movements greatly increases the chances of participating in a social movement. This is the opposite of Kornhauser's theory which said that it is the loss of connection, the fact of not being in networks, the fact of being isolated that makes one participate. A whole literature that is based on rational choices focuses on perception and on the intention to participate or not to participate.

Annexes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Marco Giugni - UNIGE
  2. Marco Giugni - Google Scholar
  3. Marco Giugni - Researchgate.net
  4. Marco Giugni - Cairn.info
  5. Marco Giugni - Protest Survey
  6. Marco Giugni - EPFL Press
  7. Marco Giugni - Bibliothèque Nationale de France
  8. Tilly, Charles. The contentious French. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1986. Print.
  9. Della Porta, Donatella, Social movements : an introduction, Blackwell, 2006
  10. Goffman, Erving. Frame analysis : an essay on the organization of experience. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Print.
  11. Emily Shaw. Frame analysis. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Published:May 31, 2013. URL: https://www.britannica.com/topic/frame-analysis
  12. Jameson, Fredric. “On Goffman's Frame Analysis.” Theory and Society, vol. 3, no. 1, 1976, pp. 119–133. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/656942.