edictive theory#1.It is not simple to present the satisfying definition of social movements. To clarify any confusion about this matter, I am going to give definitions of collective behavior and social movement; collective behavior is defined as activity involving a relatively large number of people that is often spontaneous and very typically in violation of established social norms. Social movements, by contrast, are organized and relatively sustained activities that have a clear goal in terms of achieving or preventing some social change. To search broader knowledge of social movements, sociologist Neil Smelser argued that there are two kinds of social movement. One is norm-oriented movement and the other is value-oriented movement. In this paper, I am going to focus on norm-oriented movement.
Reform movements (norm-oriented movements) for the most part support existing social values, but they want to make macro-level changes in social norms. The civil rights movement is a good example. There was no attempt to change the set of dominant cultural values, which already included equality. Rather, the movement sought to change official norms that maintained segregation and institutionalized racism and then to change informal norms that supported the habitual racist behaviors of individuals. The movement made its demands for normative and behavioral changes on the basis of facts, supported by scientific and social sciences research results that demonstrated the falseness of certain long-standing beliefs held by many members of the society. Members of certain subcultures had more attachment to racist beliefs than members of others; thus, the pace of social change was faster where subcultural beliefs did not provide strong support for racist norms and slower in those where subcultural beliefs providing strong support for racist behaviors.
One good example to demonstrate reform movements is Nashville sit-ins movement (1959-1961). On February 1. 1960, four North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College students captured Americas attention when they sat down at Woolworths lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and requested service. However, prior to this demonstration and between 1943 and 1960, sit-ins had taken place in Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, and at least fifteen cities, including Nashville, Tennessee. The earlier protests did not gain full attention until 1960, when the southern civil rights movement gained momentum.
Although Nashville was considered to be the Athens of the South and a few blacks served on the Board of Education, the city council, and the police force, blacks and whites were racially segregated. The pattern of racial exclusiveness prevailed in Nashvilles schools and public facilities, including rest rooms, waiting areas, snack counters, transportation terminals, libraries, theaters, hotels, restaurants, and neighborhoods. Jim Crowism pervaded all aspects of life in Nashville and throughout the South. In 4958, local black leaders founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference (NCLC), an affiliate of Martin Luther King, Jr.s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On March 26-28, 1958, NCLC members held a workshop on nonviolent tactics against segregation. Under the leadership of the Reverend Kelly Miller Smith, NCLC president and pastor of First Colored Baptist Church, the workshops continued in the churchs basement throughout 1958. Early in 1959, the NCLC began a movement to desegregate downtown Nashville.
On February 13, 1960, Nashvilles black college students launched their first full-scale sit-ins. For the next three months the students continued the sit-ins, including Greyhound and Trailways bus terminals, Grants variety store, Walgreens drugstore, and Cain-Sloans and Harveys department stores as targets. A few weeks later on May 10, six Nashville lunch counters began serving blacks. The students in Nashville had won an important victory even though they had to take arresting and harassment through their every step to the victory. The sit-ins, however, were not over. By August 1961, they had attracted over 70,000 participants and generated over 3,000 arrests. They continued in some areas of the South until and even after the passage of the Civil rights Act of 1964 declared segregation at lunch counters unlawful. In addition, the technique of the sit-ins was used to integrate other public facilities, such as movie theaters, and SNCC, the student group that rose out of the sit-ins, continued to be involved in the civil rights movement for many years. Perhaps most importantly, the sit-ins marked a change in the civil rights movement. In the words of journalist Louis Lomax, They were proof that the Negro leadership class, epitomized by the NAACP, was no longer the prime mover in the Negros social revolt. The demonstrations have shifted the desegregation battles form the courtroom to the marketplace. They showed that nonviolent direct action and youth could be very useful weapons in the war against segregation.
As noted above, the sit-ins were remarkable turning points of civil rights movement. Can we, then, call the sit-ins are social movements automatically? Smelser explains there are certain determinants, or necessary conditions, to qualify as collective behavior.
(1) Structural conduciveness: racial segregation was still alive until 60s. Many public places did not serve black customers and so on. With growing consciousness of equality, the black community had clear awareness where they were standing.
(2) Structural Strain: although racial segregation was norm which had existed for a long period of time, these structural strains were perceived as targets to eliminate during the civil rights movement.
(3) The growth and spread of a generalized belief: prior to Nashville sit-ins, the same kind of protests occurred in many other cities. With these happenings, local black leaders in Nashville were able to provide college students appropriate training to participate.
(4) Precipitating factors: in Nashville sit-in, precipitating factors seem to be vague; it could be prior protests in other cities.
(5) Mobilization of participants for action: this factor was the most well presented in Nashville sit-in. Religious groups, community leaders, and college students were interconnected strongly and showed great support for each other. This strong bond made it possible to run well-managed protests.
(6) The operation of social control: again, Nashville sit-in movement showed victory over social control in many ways. When the students were met with violence and arrests, the black community rallied to support them with attorneys and bail money. Also, when Northern students heard of the movement, they decided to help their southern counterparts by picketing even though they had no same conditions in their area. These movements were well reflected in the media, too.
#2.In sum, the predictive aspects of Smelsers theory of collective behavior are the logic of value-added and six determinants of collective behavior presented earlier. The followings are the important determinants of collective behavior.
Structural conduciveness: refers to the broad social conditions that are necessary for an episode of collective behavior to occur-example: to have a financial panic, you need a money market in which assets can be freely and quickly exchanged.
Structural strain: exists where various aspects of a system are in some way out of joint with each other. Various events can create stress that makes people susceptible to courses of action not defined by existing social arrangements.
The growth and spread of a generalized belief: structural strain alone does not produce collective behavior. The strain must be interpreted in a meaningful way by the potential participants. A generalized belief provides people with answers to their stressful circumstances.
Precipitating factors: behavior needs to be touched off by an event. This event creates, sharpens, and exaggerates other factors.
Mobilization of participants for action: participants must be brought into action.
Operation of social control: social control is techniques through which governing elites prevent, interrupt, deflect, and inhibit the accumulation of other determinants of collective behavior.
Smelsers formulation is borrowed from the economists notion of value added. As raw ore, iron can be made into many things. Once converted into thin sheets of steel, uses are limited. Cutting further limits its uses. Each step adds value, but also cuts down on other options. Collective behavior is like this- as each successive determinant is added; the range of possible final outcomes is narrowed.
Although it is from the field of economics, the logic of value-added explains the formation of collective behavior well. Particularly, he indicated that certain single empirical events or situations may be significant as several determinants of collective behavior. We can see this point is true in our history. For example, especially for panic or riot occurrence, precipitating factors operate more weighted role than others. When the police officers that had engaged in the well-publicized beating of Rodney King were acquitted, a riot erupted in Los Angeles. Even though other determinants like structural conduciveness or strain had been long recognized as social problem, the Rodney King beating was the most important factor to trigger this tragic event in the U.S. history. Collective behavior needs both a social environmental context and a stimulus or trigger. More often than not, the context is one in which there is an underlying anxiety and ambiguity.
With combining the logic of value-added and the determinants of collective behavior, Smelser did not clear some points in his theory. First of all, It is not clear that all of necessary conditions must be present for any kind of collective episode to occur or not. Even though if we can see all these determinants for outbursts when we study an event or history, it does not necessarily predict the actual possibilities of actual occurrence. In other words, even if we are able to name all the determinants in the context, we cannot predict actual collective behavior will occur; it just enhances the possibilities of occurrence. Let us assume that we are studying some event or situation, which is a kind of social movement. It is generally believed and referred as social movement. However, this event does not fit in all six categories of Smelser. Forms of collective behavior within different social context vary. To define and study collective behavior and social movement, therefore, we should consider every possible theory and explanation for more adequate answers.