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How to Explain a Social Movement

ISBN: 9781594518591 | 1594518599
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Paradigm Pub
Pub. Date: 6/30/2015

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This volume brings together essays written by Jeff Goodwin over the past twenty years, including several award-winning papers, with a number of provocative new essays that reflect on 'śthe state of the art'ť in the field of social-movement studies. While Goodwin has been associated with intellectual movements that called for 'śbringing back'ť the state and emotions into movement studies, he here calls for bringing back political economy into the field. Among the questions addressed in this volume are: Why do revolutions occur when and where they do? Why do they turn out the way they do? Why do some rebels use violence and even terrorism'”that is, violence directed at ordinary, 'śinnocent'ť people'”to bring about social change? How do the networks, culture, and emotions of actors shape collective action? And how do we explain social movements generally, that is, sustained collective action that aims to bring about (or prevent) social change? The collected essays draw on a wide range of empirical cases to test and illustrate the author's theoretical claims. Among these are the Iranian and Nicaraguan revolutions, the Communist-led Huk rebellion in the Philippines, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and the gay and lesbian movement in the U.S. The book's title essay, a general introduction to the study of social movements, is highly critical of contemporary movement studies. Goodwin shows how movement scholarship has lost its former robust connection with political economy and as a result has become increasingly superficial and ahistorical. More specifically, today's movement scholars are not longer concerned, as they once emphatically were, with how the dynamics of capitalism shape and constrain the possibilities for transformative collective action. This volume hopes to change that. It will interest and challenge advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and sophisticated general readers who want to learn more about social movements, revolutions, and terrorism.


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