Three different theories of social movements using the Civil Rights Movement and the developing Hip Hop Movement of the HSAN as examples.

Essay by Safire872University, Bachelor'sA+, July 2003

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Sociology 238 Urban Social Movements

We must first look at what constitutes a social movement to assess the likelihood that the recent Hip-Hop Summit protests will develop into a full blown social movement. One perspective on the origins of social movements can be referred to as social strain theory. There are a few different variations of strain theory (mass society theory, collective behavior theory, and relative deprivation), which have in common the idea that the "strain" indirectly leads to mobilization on the part of the individuals, who are then motivated to join movements. This is further explained by McAdam as he points out, "social movements are seen as a collective reaction to some form of disruptive system strain...which, when severe enough trigger... social insurgency."

These theories have in common the fact that they are based on the idea that social movements are the result of some systematic strain. This strain takes place on a societal level when changes occur like urbanization, immigration, economic depression, and then flows downward to a more every day individual level like individual isolation or alienation.

However, strain does not have to be caused by alienation or psychological disturbance, but could simply be the shared awareness of systemic injustice such as income inequality despite the same education level and ability. Therefore once strain trickles down to where it threatens individual freedoms, people seek to alleviate the strain and correct the problem.

Resource Mobilization theory assumes that strain/grievances are constant, and that what changes is the accessibility of resources to mobilize that gives rise to movements, not a realization of

deprivation. However, it states that oppressed people generally do not have the means and/or ability in which to mobilize on their own, that they need resources from other outside groups like the elite for sponsorship. There...