Origins of the Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement has inspired libraries of popular and scholarly books and articles. Its influence on the study of social movements and collective action processes is remarkable. Yet even something so thoroughly studied yields new insights to these processes. This dialogue is prompted by a recent article written by Doron Shultziner about the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. In his piece (Mobilization, June 2013) he distinguishes between factors that explain a movement’s emergence from those that explain its momentum – in particular, the important role of humiliation and shame in sparking the boycott.

In light of Shultziner’s arguments, we asked scholars and activists to reflect more generally on the origins of social movements. What do we now know about the origins of the Civil Rights Movement? What are the implications of that for other social movements, given that so many theories developed with that movement in mind? In what ways has scholarly focus on this particular movement highlighted or obscured collective-action processes at different stages and in different places?

We are posting 8 great contributions now and several more later this month. Many thanks to our all-star cast of contributors:

Kenneth (Andy) Andrews, UNC Chapel Hill (essay)
Kim Ebert, North Carolina State University (essay)
Jo Freeman, feminist scholar and activist (essay)
Joseph Luders, Yeshiva University (essay)
Anthony (Tony) Oberschall, UNC Chapel Hill (essay)
Deana Rohlinger, Florida State University (essay)
Doron Shultziner, independent scholar (essay)
John Skrentny, UC San Diego (essay)

As always, we invite you to join the dialogue by posting your reactions to these essays in the comments sections.

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, and Dan Myers

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Origins of Social Movements

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