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2 Social Movement Theory: Past, Present And Prospects By

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses how developments in the real world have influenced the study of contention. It starts with classical approaches, such as mass society and collective behaviour theories, that tried to explain large movements before the Second World War like Nazism and Communism. The growth of social movement activity with a goal-oriented and rational focus in the 1960s called for more structural and rational approaches such as the political process and resource-mobilization approach and for more social constructivistic approaches derived from cultural sociology and social psychology. Since the 1990s, activists mobilizing for social change have been operating in a dramatically changing social-political context. Social movement scholars have reacted with arguments about synergy, making the case for synergizing structural and social constructivistic approaches. The chapter presents an explanatory framework for contextualized contentious politics in which we can integrate influences from supra(national) and mobilizing contexts within a particular country.

Keywords: contention; contentious politics; mass society; social movement; social psychology; social-political context



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