Sociology | Advanced Topics (Social Movements)
S660 | 3718 | Kent Redding


Social movements are collective actions organized to bring about or
prevent social change.  Generally, social movements are marked by some
degree of temporal continuity and involve at least some
non-institutionalized action.  Our main initial objective is to better
understand why people act as they do in contentious collective
contexts by critically examining different explanatory models of
collective action.  The social movement literature is rife with
theoretical controversies and turf wars and we will spend the first
few weeks of the course sorting among and trying to make sense of some
of the different theoretical perspectives that have been proposed and
used.  From there we turn to more pragmatic concerns, towards three
basic factors that have been proposed to explain contentious
collective action and the lifecycle of social movements.  That is, we
will focus on how political opportunities, mobilizing structures, and
interpretative processes have been used to explain the origins,
developments, and outcomes of social movements.  In this section of
the course, the articles I have chosen to read are an eclectic mix of
theoretical perspectives.  Course requirements will likely include
weekly discussion questions, group presentations, a midterm exam, and
a final research paper.