Class Syllabus

Part I. The Sociology of Social Movements: From Pathology to Strategy 

Week One. Introduction. 

Week Two. Dominant perspectives: Strategy and Organization.

  • John McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald, "Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A Partial theory." American Journal of Sociology 82 (1977): 1212-1241. (Online). 
  • Steven Barkan, "Strategic, Tactical, and Organizational Dilemmas of the Protest Movement against Nuclear Power," Social Problems 27 (1979): 19-37. (Packet).
  • Gary Downey, "Ideology and the Clamshell Identity: Organizational Dilemmas in the Anti-Nuclear Power Movement," Social Problems 33 (1986): 357-371. (Packet).

Suggested readings:

  • J. Craig Jenkins and Charles Perrow, “Insurgency of the Powerless: Farm Worker Movements (1946-1972), American Sociological Review 42(1977): 249-268.  
  • Marshall Ganz, “Resources and Resourcefulness: Strategic Capacity in the Unionization of California Agriculture, 1959-1966,” American Journal of Sociology 105 (2000): 1003-1062.
  • John Lofland, Social Movement Organizations
  • Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald, eds. Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements (1996)
  • Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement (1998).  


Week Three. Decisionmaking: Uncertainty and familiarity

  • Sherryl Kleinman, Opposing Ambitions. (Labyrinth).
  • James G. March, "Theories of Choice and Making Decisions," Society, Nov/Dec, 1982. (Packet).
  • Frank Dobbin "Cultural Models of Organization: The Social Construction of Rational Organizing Principles," in The Sociology of Culture, edited by Diana Crane. (Packet).

Suggested readings:

  • Paul DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell, "The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields," American Sociological Review 48:147-60.
  • James M. Jasper, "Tastes in Tactics," in The Art of Moral Protest.
  • Francesca Polletta and James M. Jasper, "Collective Identity and Social Movements," Annual Review of Sociology 38 (2001)


Week Four: Political structure and movement strategy

  • William Gamson, The Strategy of Social Protest, chs. 2,3,6,7. (Packet)
  • Herbert Kitschelt, "Political Opportunity Structures and Political Protest: Antinuclear Movements in Four Democracies," British Journal of Political Science 16(1986): 57-85.(Packet)
  • Edwin Amenta, Drew Halfmann, and Michael P. Young, "The Strategies and Contexts of Social Protest: Political Mediation and the Impact of the Townsend Movement in California," Mobilization 4 (1999):1-23. (Packet).

Suggested reading:

  • Doug McAdam, "Tactical Innovation and the Pace of Insurgency," American Sociological Review 48 (1983): 735-54.


Week Five. Strategic repertoires

  • Charles Tilly, "Contentious Repertoires in Great Britain, 1758-1834," in Mark Traugott, ed., Repertoires and Cycles of Collective Action (1994). (Packet).
  • Elisabeth Clemens, "Organizational Repertoires and Institutional Change: Women's Groups and the Transformation of U.S. Politics, 1890-1920," American Journal of Sociology 98 (1993): 755-798. (Online).
  • Julian Groves, "Animal Rights and the Politics of Emotion: Folk Constructs of Emotion in the Animal Rights Movement," in Goodwin, Jasper, and Polletta, Passionate Politics (2001). (Packet).
  • Theda Skocpol, "Associations Without Members," American Prospect 45 (July-August 1999): 66-73 (Packet).

Suggested reading:

  • Elisabeth Clemens, "Organizational Form as Frame" in Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements, edited by Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald.
  • Michael P. Hanagan, et. al. eds., Challenging Authority (1998).


Part II. Organizational Dilemmas

Week Six: Organization and cooptation.

  • Robert Michels, Political Parties. (Packet).
  • Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed: How They Fail. (Packet).
  • Donald B. Rosenthal, "Who `Owns' AIDS Service Organizations? Governance Accountability in Non-Profit Organizations," Polity 29 (1996): 97-118. (Packet).
  • Suzanne Staggenborg, "The Consequences of Professionalization and Formalization in the Pro-Choice Movement," American Sociological Review 53 (1988): 585-606. (Online)

Suggested reading:

  • J. Craig Jenkins, "Nonprofit Organizations and Policy Advocacy." In The Non-Profit Sector, edited by Walter K. Powell. 
  • Debra Minkoff, "The Organization of Survival." Social Forces 71(1993): 887-908.
  • Roy Cain, "Community-Based AIDS Services: Formalization and Depoliticization, International Journal of Health Services 23 (1993): 665-684.
  • Nancy Matthews, "Feminist Clashes with the State: Tactical Choices by State-Funded Rape Crisis Centers" in Myra Marx Ferree and Patricia Yancey Martin, eds., Feminist Organizations: Harvest of the New Women’s Movement, 291-305.


Week Seven. Organization and democracy

  • Wini Breines, "Politics as Community," in Community and Organization in the New Left. (Packet).
  • Jo Freeman, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness," in Radical Feminism, edited by Ann Koedt, Ellen Levine, and Anita Rapone. (Packet).
  • Paul Lichterman, The Search for Political Community: American Activists Reinventing Commitment, chs. 2, 4, 6. (Labyrinth).
  • Francesca Polletta, Freedom Is an Endless Meeting: Democracy in American Social Movements, chs. 1, 6, 7. (Online -- will post to bulletin board)

Suggested reading:

  • Suzanne Staggenborg, "Stability and Innovation in the Women’s Movement: A Comparison of Two Movement Organizations," Social Problems 36 (1989): 75-92
  • Jane Mansbridge, Beyond Adversary Democracy.
  • Joyce Rothschild-Whitt, "Conditions Facilitating Participatory-Democratic Organizations," Sociological Inquiry 46 (1976): 75-86.
  • Rebecca Bordt, The Structure of Women’s Nonprofit Organizations.
  • Joan Cassell. A Group Called Women: Sisterhood and Symbolism in the Feminist Movement.
  • Barbara Epstein. Political Protest and Cultural Revolution
  • Gastil, John. Democracy in Small Groups: Participation, Decision Making and Communication
  • Iannello, Kathleen P. Decisions Without Hierarchy: Feminist Interventions in Organization Theory and Practice.


Week Eight: Claimmaking

  • David A. Snow and Robert D. Benford, "Ideology, Frame Resonance, and Participant Mobilization," International Social Movement Research 1 (1988): 197-217
  • Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly, Dynamics of Contention, chs. 1, 5, 6. (Packet)
  • Marc Steinberg, "The Talk and Back Talk of Collective Action," American Journal of Sociology 105 (1999): 736-80. (Online).
  • James M. Jasper, "Culture and Strategy: States, Audiences, and Success," in The Art of Moral Protest. (Packet).


Part III. Strategizing. NOTE: The following is subject to change depending on the interests of seminar participants.

Week Nine: Media
  • Todd Gitlin, The Whole World is Watching, Introduction, chs. 1-5, 9-11.  
  • Naomi Klein, "The Vision Thing," The Nation, July 10, 2000. (Online:
  • Walter Kirn, "The New Radicals," Time, April 24, 2000. (Packet)
  • Look at

Suggested reading:

  • Jackie Smith et al., "From Protest to Agenda Building: Description Bias in Media Coverage of Protest Events in Washington, D.C.," Social Forces 79 (2001): 1397-1423.
  • Charlotte Ryan, Prime Time Activism (1991)
  • William Gamson and Antonio Modigliani, "Media Discourse and Public Opinion on Nuclear Power," American Journal of Sociology 95 (1989): 1-37.
  • Shanto Iyengar. Is Anyone Responsible?: How Television Frames Political Issues (1991)
  • Richard B. Kielbowitz and Clifford Scherer, "The Role of the Press in the Dynamics of Social Movements," Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change 9 (1986): 71-96.


Week Ten: Rights Talk

  • Peter Gabel, "The Phenomenology of Right-Consciousness and the Pact of the Withdrawn Selves," Texas Law Review 62(1984): 1563-1599. (Packet). 
  • Patricia J. Williams, "Alchemical Notes: Reconstructing Ideals from Deconstructed Rights." (Packet). 
  • Michael McCann, Rights At Work, chs. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 (Labyrinth). 

Suggested reading:

  • Paul Burstein, "Legal Mobilization as a Social Movement Tactic: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity," American Journal of Sociology 96 (1991): 1201-25.
  • Alan Hunt, Explorations in Law and Society: Toward a Constitutive Theory of Law. (New York: Routledge, 1993).
  • Mark Kelman A Guide to Critical Legal Studies (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1987) 
  • Mark Kessler,  "Legal Mobilization for Social Reform: Power and the Politics of Agenda Setting," Law and Society Rev. 24 (1990): 121-143.
  • Francesca Polletta, "The Structural Context of Novel Rights Claims: Rights Innovation in the Southern Civil Rights Movement, 1961-1966." Law and Society Review 34 (2000): 367-406.
  • Elizabeth Schneider, "The Dialectic of Rights and Politics: Perspectives from the Women's Rights Movement," New York Univ. Law Rev. 61(1986): 589-652.


Week Eleven: Transnational Activism

  • Margaret Keck and Katherine Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders, chs. 1, 2, and 6, and either 3, 4, or 5.

NOTE: Alternative topics for the previous section:

  • Violence and repression; emotions and protest
  • identity politics
  • community organizing
  • the internet and protest
  • defeat and setbacks
  • movement coalitions.


 Week Twelve: Project presentations