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13. Social Movements and Collective Behavior

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Chapter Summary

Territorial criteria often combine with functional ones to define research strategies focusing on the comparison of specific movements or movement families. As social movements are very heterogeneous phenomena, identifying exactly what is to be compared is of crucial importance. Instances of collective action may include both social movements, explicitly challenging specific social opponents, and "consensus movements". Social movements can be seen as sets of actors sharing certain characteristics. This is consistent with the behaviorist tradition in political research, and with a research strategy based on the characteristics of individual actors: their beliefs and styles of behavior and background for individuals; organizational traits for organizations. During the period from 1990 to 2005 it seemed that protests in the developed nations focused mainly on self-expression and middle-class movements, such as gay rights, the environment, and opposition to oppression in the developing world.

Keywords: behaviorist tradition; collective behavior; individual actors; research strategies; social movements



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