Actor Formation, Social Co-Ordination, and Political Strategy: Some Conceptual Problems in the Study of Social Movements.
Sociology, Vol. 29, No. 4, p.667-658, (1995)
19 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2014
Date Written: 1995
A survey of the literature on social movements shows that the contributions by American and European scholars have shed considerable light on two problems: why social movements emerge with particular identities and how organisers give coherence to a movement and co-ordinate the actions of their followers. The challenge faced by movement organisers in seeking to bring about change -- a challenge that forces a social movement to engage strategically as a social actor, with its political-institutional environment -- has received, however, relatively little attention. Seeking to fill this gap in the literature I argue that the distinct analytical issues raised by the problem of political strategy which social movements face can only be addressed through a synthesis that builds upon, but goes beyond, the contributions made by American and European scholars. The challenge is to conceive of social movements as strategic actors, while acknowledging the implications that a movement's collective identity and social nature has for an analysis of strategic action.
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