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VIP “mini-course” on
Social Movements with
Case Studies About
Animal Advocacy.
January 2014.

1
Elton Mayo (1920s/30s)
• Aspirations for a radically different order: seen as the
irrational fantasies of discontented ind...
• Freeman & Johnson (1999) characterise pre-war movements as
‘extremist in nature’ -- this shaped the analysis of them
• I...
• Buechler says that there is a ‘distinctive theoretical lens’ for
examining collective behaviour.

• core assumptions:
• ...
Buechler (2000: 26)

What distinguishes collective behaviour
from “normal” responses to change is that it
compresses or sh...
• Chicago School of Sociology
• SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM

• Herbert Blumer: influential essay on social movements
• Blumer’...
The Movement is a melange of people, mostly young people;
organisations, mostly new; and ideas, mostly American...These
yo...
BUECHLER (2000: 32)
‘the social and political activism
of the 1960s made the single
biggest contribution to changing
the i...
‘theory’ and even ‘ideology’ are uncomfortable words. Most SDS
members are anti-ideological... not well read in Marxism or...
Scott:
• primarily social rather than political
• less concerned with achieving state power than transforming values
and l...
When a new wave of environmental
activism emerged in the 1970s, along with
other movements on issues such as
peace, women’...
Basic “conflict” view
• politics seen as revolving around a set of clearly defined
material interests
• these interests we...
What is the social base of this
movement?
It is not w/c in any obvious sense;
but what kind of social position do
‘student...
Who or what is ‘the enemy’?
Is there an opponent which somehow
represents the antagonist of students as a
social force? In...
Whose interests are being
served?
The ‘movement’ appears to be neither class
based, nor organised within the framework of
...
For some time, a strong strand of
opinion existed on the political left
that feminism was a conservative
diversion from th...
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Vip social theory part two

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Vip social theory part two

  1. 1. VIP “mini-course” on Social Movements with Case Studies About Animal Advocacy. January 2014. 1
  2. 2. Elton Mayo (1920s/30s) • Aspirations for a radically different order: seen as the irrational fantasies of discontented individuals • Bolshevism/Socialism/Fascism were ‘dreams’ / ‘reveries’ created by the monotony of industrial labour • Counselling and social support needed • The “needs” of society (speaking generally) are met be prevailing relations • “Discontent” was understood on an individual level • a form of social pathology 2
  3. 3. • Freeman & Johnson (1999) characterise pre-war movements as ‘extremist in nature’ -- this shaped the analysis of them • In sociology, the main body of Western social theory in the 1940s and 1950s endorsed the structural functionalist type of analysis which said • society handles its problems and tasks through a framework of institutions which represent a stable ‘social order’ • System has mechanisms and devices for solving problems • political parties • government • parties • trade unions • interest groups • associations • lobbies • pressure groups 3
  4. 4. • Buechler says that there is a ‘distinctive theoretical lens’ for examining collective behaviour. • core assumptions: • unitary concept of ‘collective behaviour’ which will embrace • panics • crazes • crowds • movements • CB is essentially non-institutional formless, shapeless, unpatterned, unpredictable • Its primary causation is rooted in the individual • Its meaning is psychological rather than political • It is a reaction to societal stress, strain, or breakdown 4
  5. 5. Buechler (2000: 26) What distinguishes collective behaviour from “normal” responses to change is that it compresses or short-circuits levels of social action, giving collective behaviour a crude, excessive, eccentric, impatient quality when compared to routine and institutionalised social action 5
  6. 6. • Chicago School of Sociology • SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM • Herbert Blumer: influential essay on social movements • Blumer’s def: ‘Collective enterprise to establish a new order of life’. • Blumer’s ‘career’ of a social movement..... The career of a social movement depicts the emergence of a new order of life. In its beginning, a SM is amorphous, poorly organised, and without form; collective behaviour is primitive and the mechanisms of interaction are elementary and spontaneous. As a social movement develops, it takes on the character of a society. It acquires organisation and form, a body of customs and traditions, established leadership, an enduring division of labour, social rules and social values - in short, a culture, an organisation and a new scheme of life 6
  7. 7. The Movement is a melange of people, mostly young people; organisations, mostly new; and ideas, mostly American...These young people believe that they must make something happen, that they are part of a movement stirring just below the surface of life hitherto accepted...The Movement is organisations plus unaffiliated supporters, who outnumber by thousands and perhaps even hundreds of thousands, those committed to specific groups. The movement’s strength rests on those unaffiliated reserves...To be in the movement is to search for a psychic community, in which one’s own identity can be defined, social and personal relationships based on love can be established and can grow, unfettered by the cramping pressures of the careers and life styles so characteristic of America today (Jacobs & Landau 1966: 14-5) 7
  8. 8. BUECHLER (2000: 32) ‘the social and political activism of the 1960s made the single biggest contribution to changing the intellectual and sociohistorical climate in which sociology and social movement theory existed’ 8
  9. 9. ‘theory’ and even ‘ideology’ are uncomfortable words. Most SDS members are anti-ideological... not well read in Marxism or in other radical literature (but) moved to action primarily by events in their own lives. SDS is more than an organisation; it is a community of friends...personal relationships are inseparable from political life...the vocabulary and community life are part of the SDS style...at group meetings their openness is apparent. They exhibit great tolerance, and no speaker is silenced, no matter how irrelevant or repetitious. And it is difficult to single out those who hold authority... Leaders mean organisation, organisation means hierarchy, and hierarchy is undemocratic ...SDSers believe that the new movements are in their infancy and a great amount of work has to be done at the base...theory or long-run strategy is a fuzzy notion to them. The question of how to link the various projects is unanswered... 9
  10. 10. Scott: • primarily social rather than political • less concerned with achieving state power than transforming values and life styles • hence located in ‘civil society’ rather than the state • attempting to bring about change through cultural innovations and identities • using grass roots and network types of organisation Buechler (33-4): • the theoretical ‘paradigm shift’ leading to sms being seen as... • distinct from CB - worthy of analysis in own right • showing their own enduring, patterned, and institutionalised elements • being rooted in collective understandings/group interests • having claims to be treated as rational phenomena • constituting therefore political rather than psychological entities 10
  11. 11. When a new wave of environmental activism emerged in the 1970s, along with other movements on issues such as peace, women’s and human rights, it was difficult for political analysts to relate it to previously dominant conflicts. Such difficulty has largely persisted to date (Della Porta & Diani 1999: 25). 11
  12. 12. Basic “conflict” view • politics seen as revolving around a set of clearly defined material interests • these interests were distinct, and frequently contradictory, between different social groupings • each group tends to organise around the pursuit of its material interest in opposition to others • parties/political organisations represent interests • political power [control of the state] contested to change the structure of inequality • economic concerns central [Other concerns could ‘wait’] • a fully developed political challenge brings specific material interests together in a general vision of an alternative society 12
  13. 13. What is the social base of this movement? It is not w/c in any obvious sense; but what kind of social position do ‘students’ occupy and in what ways could this provide a stable and alternative foundation for organised social action, and for what reasons? 13
  14. 14. Who or what is ‘the enemy’? Is there an opponent which somehow represents the antagonist of students as a social force? In their own perceptions, it is not straightforwardly ‘capitalism’ or ‘the rich’ being targeted, but a much wider (and less well defined?) notion of ‘authority’ or ‘domination’, which seems as much a matter of generational as of class politics - the student movement shades over into the ‘counterculture’ which is against everything that is ‘square’ and ‘uptight’ 14
  15. 15. Whose interests are being served? The ‘movement’ appears to be neither class based, nor organised within the framework of standard national politics; it is not competing for control of the state, as an alternative potential ruling group or class, and to some extent it claims to speak for ‘everyone’, for universal rights and ‘participation’ or ‘liberation’, in a way which eludes confinement within ordinary political limits is it a movement of all parties and none? 15
  16. 16. For some time, a strong strand of opinion existed on the political left that feminism was a conservative diversion from the pursuit of class equality and that women’s rights would be a natural by-product of general social transformation (Elizabeth Meehan, cited in Scott: 24). 16

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