Social Movement Essay

4555 Words Jan 24th, 2012 19 Pages
Theories of Social Movements Relative Deprivation Theory
Relative deprivation theory, developed by Denton Morrison (1971) is a more general theory about why individuals join social movements. A person experiences relative deprivation when she feels that she is not receiving her “fair share” of what seems to be available. Therefore, the people who are the worst off are not necessarily the ones experiencing relative deprivation. For instance, research in the Civil Rights movement showed that African Americans who were the most active were not most deprived but were fairly well-off, such as college students or religious leaders but they were the ones who felt the most relatively deprived.
Key to the idea of relative deprivation is the
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However, if expectations are perceived as legitimate but blocked, individuals will experience discontent and frustration. They will be more likely to want to remedy an unfair situation.
Morrison also identifies structural conditions that increase the probability of emergence of social movements (Locher, 2002:256-257): * Large numbers of people must experience relative deprivation; * There must be a high degree of interaction and communication between people experiencing relative deprivation; * The more socially alike individuals experiencing relative deprivation, the easier it will be for them to get together and create a movement; * Movements are more likely to form in a rigidly stratified society because differences between classes are obvious. * The society must have large numbers of voluntary associations to give people a sense that collective activity can make a difference and actually produce beneficial change. Also, a social movement benefits from organizational leadership skills of associations.
Resource Mobilization Theory
In 1973, Anthony Oberschall published Social Conflict and Social Movements in which he formulated the resource mobilization theory focusing on the social and structural factors affecting a movement's success or failure rather than the factors motivating people to join social movements. Oberschall points out that relative deprivation cannot fully explain social movements because there is no perfect society that

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