International Relations module: Protest and Social Movements – Comparing definitions of social movement

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QUESTION: Compare three definitions of social movements and illustrate your answer with reference to an empirical case of a social movement (Please mainly use sources below, and focus on the feminist movement, please.)

Essential Reading:

Gillan, K. ‘Social Movements, Protest, and Practices of Social Change’ ch.18 in Ritzer &
Wiedenhofts (eds) Wiley Blackwell Companion to Sociology (2nd edition, pp.301-318).
Goodwin & Jasper The Social Movements Reader, Editors’ Introduction pp.3-7

Main Reading:
K Tilly, C. and Tarrow, S. Contentious Politics, (N) ch. 6 pp.111-134
N McDonald. K. Global Movements, esp. chs 2,3 & 10.
Jasper, J. Protest, chs 1 & 2.

Further Reading
N E della Porta,D and Diani, M, Social Movements: An Introduction, ch.1
Johnston, H. What is a Social Movement? Ch.1
Johnston. H. States and Social Movements, chs 2,3.
O Opp, K-D. Theories of Protest and Social Movements
N K Tilly, C. Social Movements 1768-2004, ch.1
N Nash, K. Contemporary Political Sociology, ch.3
N Tarrow, S, Power in Movement, Intro and Part One
N Nash, K and Scott, A. (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology, ch. 17 by Meyer
and ch. 24 by Maheu, compare the two).
Armstrong, E.A. & Bernstein, M. ‘Culture, Power, and Institutions: A Multi-Institutional Politics
Approach to Social Movements’ Sociological Theory 26 (1) pp. 74-99 (available via the KLE).
N Jordan, T. Activism!, chs 1-2
N Crossley, N, Making Sense of Social Movements (esp. ch. On New social movements)
N N Traugott, M. (ed), Repertoires and Cycles of Collective Action ( ch. by Calhoun on New
Social Movements of the Early Nineteenth Century).
N Eyerman, R. and Jamison, A. Social Movements.
N Scott, A, Ideology and the New Social Movements (intro & ch.1)
O Touraine, A. ‘The Importance of Social Movements’, SMS, Vol.1, No.1, 2002, pp.89-95.
N Doherty, B. Ideas and Actions in the Green Movement, ch.1.

Topics details during lecture:
Our focus this week is on defining what social movements are; distinguishing them from other
political organisations. We at three ways of defining social movements and compare
them. The first: The contentious politics approach – seen particularly in the work of Tilly, Tarrow
and McAdam for whom social movements and protest are variants of more general processes
of contention. The second: New Social Movements approach – seen in the work of Alberto
Melucci, Alain Touraine and Jurgen Habermas, among others (see Nash, della Porta and
Crossley on these, plus Touraine). For these writers movements provide evidence of major
social changes, and so movement actions and ideas, particularly their stress on new identities,
signify that a new kind of society is emerging. The third approach – we find in McDonald’s
work on ‘Global Movements’ is a development from the NSM approach but the emphasis is less
on new collective identity and more on the personal experience that challenges the idea that
movements are a product of universal global ideas.

Seminar Discussion Questions:
Are social movements a product of modern political systems and industrial society? Must social
movements be radical in their aims or can reforming the system through changes in particular
policies also be aims of social movements?
Do all social movements use protest and if so, are all protesters part of a social movement?
Is there a distinctive form of social movement organization?
Why is understanding the relations between social movements and other actors central to
understanding contention, according to Tilly and Tarrrow?
What were the ‘new social movements’ and to what extent were the New Social Movements
new?
Is MacDonald’s challenge to the idea of social movements convincing?
Compare the three approaches. What are their respective strengths and weaknesses?
Why do you think the past year saw so many protests?

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