Many of us who study social movements were at one point involved in social movements. Those who are, or have been, involved in a social movement have probably experienced the emotional intensity and the accompanying emotional and bodily exhaustion so often connected to social movements. Activists put their bodies on the line for a particular cause, risking permanent damage either by injury during a protest or action—accidental or on purpose—or by devoting long hours to the cause, to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion. Conversely, there is also the daily boredom and repetition that often accompanies movements—copying filers, scheduling and attending endless meetings and events, writing press releases, etc. For me, concepts like Political Opportunity Structure, Resource Mobilization, and Discursive Opportunity Structure, while important, fail to capture the intense, emotional, and at times boring, lived experience of activists.
Tag Archives: analytical methods
By Jeff Goodwin
Political violence and terrorism (violence against noncombatants) have received considerable attention from scholars of social movements and contentious politics since the events of 9/11. Several important books and dozens of articles have been published by such scholars on these topics. I recently had the privilege of editing a special issue of the journal Mobilization (March 2012) on political violence, and the recent essay dialogue on terrorism at the Mobilizing Ideas website continues this important conversation.
At the same time, we should not forget, scholars have also devoted growing attention to nonviolent civil resistance, exemplified by recent studies by Sharon Erickson Nepstad (2011) and Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan (2011). In fact, strategies and tactics of various types have received renewed attention from scholars of contentious politics in recent years in an effort to understand better their causes and efficacy (e.g., Jasper 2004, Amenta 2006, Ganz 2009, Maney et al. 2012). The recent scholarship on violent and nonviolent strategies promises to enrich this more general discussion of strategy (although strategies may of course be differentiated on many other analytic dimensions). Continue reading