Social & Political Movements - SO822

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
(version 2)
Autumn 7 20 (10) DR C Wrenn checkmark-circle


The module is designed so that, as well as covering a core of central concepts and theories, students will have the opportunity from selecting from among a range of optional topics.

i) Core Topics (These will be covered every year):
? Introduction: questions of definition – protest, collective action, social movements, social movement organisations. NGOs, pressure groups
? Collective behaviour or political action? The question of rationality; mass society theory; relative deprivation
? Resource mobilisation theory and its critics
? Political opportunity structures
? Ideas, values and knowledge in the making of social movements
? Mass media and social movements: framing and its consequences
? New communications media and social movements
? Structure, context and process in the development of social movements
? Prospects for the development of global social movements
? The impact of social movements: how do social movements matter?

ii) Optional Topics (These will be offered subject to student demand)
? Making sense of violence: riots; terrorism
? Political participation: rationality and resources
? Peace movements: reactive protest?
? Student movements: leading edge of the new politics or pathologies
of troubled youth?


Contact hours




Method of assessment

Students will be assessed by means of a single 5000 word essay (100%) on a topic of their own choosing (but subject to the approval of the module convenor)

Indicative reading

There is no single text and you should, therefore, decide which books to buy according to the topics in which you are particularly interested. However, several recent books are strongly recommended (all are – or should be – in the Templeman Library):

** della Porta, Donatella & Mario Diani Social Movements: an introduction (Blackwell 2006)

** David Snow, S. Soule & H. Kriesi, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. (2004)

Goodwin, J. & J. M. Jaspers, eds. Rethinking Social Movements. (Rowman & Littlefield 2004) – a spirited set of arguments between structuralists and their critics.

Nick Crossley Making Sense of Social Movements (Open UP 2002)

Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow & Charles Tilly Dynamics of Contention (Cambridge UP 2001)

Others that are especially useful are:

Tarrow, Sidney Power in Movement 2nd edition or later. (Cambridge University Press 1998)

Dalton, Russell Citizen Politics in Western Democracies (CQ Press, 5th edition)

Byrne, Paul Social Movements in Britain (Routledge, 1997)

McAdam, D., D. McCarthy & M. Zald, eds. Comparative perspectives on social movements. (Cambridge University Press 1995)

Foweraker, Joe Theorizing Social Movements (Pluto 1995). An excellent discussion of the theories in relation to Latin American examples.

Jenkins, J. C. & Klandermans, B. (eds.) The Politics of Social Protest: comparative perspectives on states and social movements (UCL Press 1995)

Morris, A. D. & C. McC. Mueller, eds. Frontiers in Social Movement Theory. (Yale UP 1992).

Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, Conny Roggeband & Bert Klandermans (eds). The Future of Social Movement Research: Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Processes. (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press 2013)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module students should:

Students will also gain some familiarity with the methodology of empirical research into social movements and related political activity.
11.1 Be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the major theoretical approaches to the study of social movements including collective behaviour, mass society, relative deprivation, resource mobilisation. Political opportunity structures, and framing processes;
11.2 Be able to make connections between the different social and political factors influencing the emergence of political protest and social movements, and the dynamics of social-movement activity and organisation, including the choice of repertoires of action;
11.3 Be able to reflect critically upon the particular conditions affecting social movement organisation and activity at the transnational level
11.4 Have gained an understanding of the methodology employed to conduct empirical research into social movements and related political activity.

12. The intended generic learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module students should:

12.1 Be able to demonstrate highly developed skills in presentation and debate, both verbal and written, and in utilization of research and statistical data
12.2 Have acquire advanced research skills through library investigation, critical debate and essay writing
12.3 Be able to synthesise and evaluate items of knowledge from different schools and disciplines of enquiry.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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