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Why Do Social Movements Decline?

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Andre Tan

on 17 October 2013

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Transcript of Why Do Social Movements Decline?

Why Do Social Movements Decline?
What do we mean by "decline"?
A ‘decline’ of a social movement is not synonymous with failure
Different theoretical strains take up the issue of decline in various ways
Let us examine the evolution of conceptual frameworks that look at social movement decline

Classical Model
Dominant theoretical paradigm up to the 1960s
Collective behavior as an expression of grievances by mass society, ‘the mob’
Spontaneous, irrational and emotional
Collective action declines either as a result of repression or because the demands of the aggrieved population are met (e.g. labour movements)

Political Process Model
Theoretical shifts: collective actors as rational individuals
McAdam (1982): Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency 1930-1970
Built on the premises of the Resource Mobilization Perspective
Social movements as rational attempts by excluded groups to mobilize sufficient political leverage to advance collective interests through noninstitutionalized means.” (1999: 37)

Decline of Black Insurgency
McAdam (1983) points to shifts in the political environment as the reason for the decline
Positive legislative changes
Civil Rights Act (1964, 1968)
Voting Rights Act (1965)
Immigration and Nationality Services Act (1965)
Fair Housing Act (1968)
Shifting control response from political elites
Failure of insurgences to devise new tactical forms
However, McAdam does not give much consideration to the fragmentation of collective identity within a movement…

Towards a Synthesis: Melucci (1995)
Social movements as a process of negotiating a collective identity towards collective action
Constructivist approach
Full transcript