Chapter summary imageMobs, Riots, and Crowds are all collections of people that seek social change through varying methods.

What Drives Social Change?

reactions to events and new opportunities.

What Are the Theories Behind Social Movements?


social movements challenge the equilibrium of society and give people a way to relieve their frustrations and emotions about a particular subject.

Conflict Theory:

social inequality creates discontent among some, which can lead to social movements.

Symbolic Interactionism:

people protest in reaction to a need that is not being met.

How Do Social Movements Influence Sociological Theory and Study?

social movements: provide an ever-changing sociological landscape; encourage the development of new theory and the application of existing theory.



  • social movements are not the actual activities, but are ways for people to vent their frustrations and emotions
  • venting upsets the balance of society
  • movements also bring individuals together, allowing those who feel isolated and alone to feel as though they are part of something bigger

Conflict Theory

  • social structures are the cause of social movements
  • people concentrate on the things that they do not have, and inequality causes discontent
  • discontent causes people to seek out change, either from within the system or with outside forces
  • opposing parties fight for resources, so social movements are a way for groups to mobilize and seize power and resources

Symbolic Interactionism

  • social movements are caused by relative deprivation
  • when a person’s expectations are not met, he or she are discontent
  • if their expectations are continually not met, they are likely to resort to social movements
  • perception is key

Key Terms

Social Change

is the way in which culture, interaction, and innovation change social institutions over time.


deals with the creation, use, and application of knowledge and its interrelation with life, society, and the environment.


is the creation of a new device or way of thinking.


is the spreading of something more widely.


is the claim that a reform cannot work because the social problem is unsolvable.


claims that any attempts to fix a problem would actually compound the issues the change was trying to address.


is the claim that attempting to solve a problem will only draw attention away from other, more important issues.

Collective Behavior

is any social interaction in which a group of people engages in behavior that is not in their normal routine.


are groups characterized by high levels of emotion that engage in some type of focused action that can be violent or disruptive.


is a heightened emotional state that can lead a group to violence.


are emotional and violent disturbances of the peace by a crowd that lacks a central focus.


is a temporary fashion, notion, or action the public embraces.


occurs when a fad leaves a lasting effect on society.


is an extreme fear based on something that might happen.


is a large group of influential people who gather for a temporary purpose.


are stories or statements that lack confirmation or certainty.

Urban Legends

are rumors that are presented as true stories that act as cautionary tales.

Social Movements

are activities that support or protest social issues organized by non- governmental organizations.


are organized and ongoing effortsof claims making that target a specific authority in society.


are actions used to promote interest and involvement within the movement.


refers to the members of a movement who want to show the public the worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitments of their movement.


is the first stage of a movement when people become aware of a problem and begin to notice that others feel the same way.


is the second stage of a movement when groups reach out to other groups and individuals to gain membership.


is the third stage of a movement when it becomes a political force.


is the final stage of a movement when an organization completes its goal or is seen as irrelevant.

Alternative Social Movements

want to create a change in specific people’s thoughts, practices, and beliefs regarding a particular issue.

Redemptive Social Movements

focus on specific individuals, but the amount of change sought is radical, rather than limited.

Reformative Social Movements

seek to change a society’s thoughts and actions, but only in a limited way.


means favoring or promoting change.


means seeking to stop change.

Revolutionary Social Movement

or sometimes called the transformative social movement, seeks to change the thoughts and actions of all society in radical fashion.

Relative Deprivation

points to the gaps between what people have and what they expect.frame alignment processoccurs when social movement organizations link their goals to the goals of other organizations.

Frame Bridging

occurs when two or more groups that may be somewhat opposed to each other join forces.


occurs when ideas become elaborated and sometimes exaggerated.


refers to the way social movement organizations seek to align their interests with those of other groups that are related, some- times furthering ideas that were not originally in their frame.


changes the old meanings and understandings of the problem and creates new and innovative ones.


1. Discuss the four types of social movements and the features of each one.

2. How does new technology affect society?

3. What is relative deprivation?

4. How do sociologists from the three sociological paradigms view social movements?

5. How does the environmental movement Hawken discusses differ from other social movements?

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