Tag Archives: action

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

How Social Movements Die – the Blog Entry (Book on the way)

By Christian Davenport

davenport_photo1Many researchers, activists and ordinary citizens are trying to figure out what is meant by social movement “success” and in so doing social movement “failure.” We are somewhat confused about these concepts because most of our collective attention has been spent on trying to understand social movement emergence (i.e., when we are most likely to see them) and the use of diverse tactics (e.g., when we are more likely to see violent vs. non-violent behavior). Scholarship has only recently moved to define, conceptualize, and measure success and research has barely started on the idea of failure, which is the focus of my essay today. This renders the discussion put together in this forum both timely and useful.

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Social Movement Failure