Beyond Structural Analysis: Toward a More Dynamic Understanding of Social Movements

Doug McAdam

in Social Movements and Networks

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199251780
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599057 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Beyond Structural Analysis: Toward a More Dynamic Understanding of Social Movements

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Assesses the limitations of the structural paradigm for the investigation of the network‐participation link, and invokes a greater role for cultural analysis in the identification of recruitment and mobilization mechanisms. This general point is illustrated with reference to three specific ‘facts’ regarding the origins of protest and contention, conventionally associated with the standard structuralist argument: prior social ties as a basis for movement recruitment; established social settings as the locus of movement emergence; the spread of movements along existing lines of interaction. For each of these cases, the author identifies social mechanisms, which combine structural and cultural elements. Rather than rejecting the formalization and the quest for systematic patterns, to which network concepts and methods have so much contributed in recent years, the author calls for a more dynamic integration of cultural analysis and structuralist research strategies.

Keywords: collective action; cultural analysis; embeddedness; mobilization; participation; recruitment; social mechanisms; social movements; social networks

Chapter.  8122 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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