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Resource Mobilization Theory

Bob Edwards

Subject Sociology » Social Movements

Key-Topics resources

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


A renaissance of social movement research occurred in both North America and Europe during the 1970s as a then younger generation of scholars sought to understand the emergence, significance, and effects of the social movements of the 1960s (see Jenkins 1983 ; McAdam et al. 1988 ; Dalton et al. 1990 ). On neither side of the Atlantic did the received academic wisdom of the 1950s and 1960s view social movements in a favorable light. In the US, the most hospitable theories treated social movements as temporary disequilibria soon to be reintegrated into smoothly functioning social systems. In Europe, “new social movements” theory formed around the core problematic of explaining the origins, identity, and cultural significance of newly emerging social change constituencies ( Melucci 1980 ). By contrast, resource mobilization theory tended to take the existence of such constituencies for granted in order to explain how they mobilized effectively to pursue desired social change. Both resource mobilization and new social movement theories are variants within the broader conflict paradigm in sociological theory. Resource mobilization predominated in the rapidly growing sociological subfield of social movement research ( Gamson 1968, 1975 ; Oberschall 1973 ; Freeman 1975 ; McCarthy & Zald 1977 ; Tilly 1978 ; McAdam 1982 ; Morris 1984 ; Zald & McCarthy 1987 ; Staggenborg ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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