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TOWSON SOCI 323 - Syllabus - Social Movements

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1[sociology 323] social movements Instructor: Jeff Larson E-mail: [email protected] Office: Linthicum 318L Phone: 704-2929 Office Hours: MW 2:00-3:00 Spring 2010 MW 3:30-4:45 Linthicum Hall, room 317 Prerequisite: SOCI 101 Why do people protest? Early answers to this question grew out of a fear of “the crowd,” seen as an anti-democratic storm of mass hysteria, hurtling out of control. Sociologists later began to appreciate the democratic character of movements and the difficulties they face in organizing people, mobilizing resources, and challenging powerful governments. Some movements, notably the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, are widely celebrated. Others, especially when they turn violent, are feared. Why do protesters sometimes become violent, and does it help or hurt their cause? Are conventional tactics like rallies and marches more effective? These are some of the questions with which sociologists wrestle and to which this course offers an introduction. We will study the historical origins of what we today call social movements, their continuities and changes up to the present, and the major theoretical frameworks that have emerged to explain them. Along the way you will have several opportunities to study and even participate in the social movements that interest you most. By the end of this course, students will be able to: • Demonstrate an understanding of and distinguish between the major theoretical perspectives in the study of social movements. • Distinguish social movements from other forms of collective action and describe the origins of this distinctly modern form of contention. • Offer sociologically informed recommendations to social movement organizations in order to increase their effectiveness. readings All readings can be downloaded from the course website: assignments & grading Independent Assignment (200 pts.; 100 pts. each)—On the course website you will find a list of assignments from which you’ll choose two, one from each half of the semester (see the website for deadlines). This gives you the flexibility to choose those assignments that best match your interests. You can even design your own assignment! A great assignment will:2a) correctly identify a social movement (10%), b) extensively and skillfully incorporate concepts, theories, and readings from the course (60%), c) include citations and a works cited page using American Sociological Association (ASA) style (5%) d) use internet sources sparingly (10%), e) adhere to the rules of the particular assignment (15%). Exams (200 pts.; 100 pts. each)—There will be two short-answer exams intended to test your understanding of the readings and lectures. To prepare, you should focus on the exam review questions which can be downloaded from the course website (with the readings). These exams are not cumulative. Participation (100 pts.)—To reward your dutiful attendance I will award participation points to all those present and participating on days that I randomly choose (roughly ten times) throughout the semester. Your participation grade will reflect the percentage of those days in which you participated in class. Points: Indep. Assignments 200 Exams 200 Participation 100 Total 500 Grading scale: A ≥ 465 A− 450-464 B+ 435-449 B 415-434 B− 400-414 C+ 365-399 C 350-364 D+ 335-349 D 300-334 F ≤ 299 course policies [absences] Do not ask me what you missed until you have asked fellow students for copies of their notes and discussed the material with them. If you miss a class, you might lose participation points. However, if you have an extraordinary reason for missing class (e.g., religious holiday, severe illness or injury, near-death, death), I will waive this penalty. [cell phones & computers] Because of their potential for disruption and distraction, these are not allowed and should never be seen or heard in the classroom. [extra credit] None. [late assignments] Forget it. [office hours] I am eager to meet with you outside of class and am happy to schedule meetings outside of my regular office hours.3schedule [classical theories] ......................................................................... Jan. 25 – Jan. 27 – Blumer (1966) Feb. 1 – Feb. 3 – Davies (1979 [1969]) We begin by looking at the so-called “classical” theories which include two varieties from the early-20th century, Collective Behavior and Strain. These theories typically see collective action as spontaneous, unorganized, and often dangerous. In addition to discussing several examples of each perspective, we will read excerpts from Herbert Blumer’s influential article on collective behavior as well as James Davies’ well-known version of Strain theory applied to the U.S. civil rights movement. Readings Blumer, Herbert. 1966. “Collective Behavior.” Pp. 178-214 in Principles of Sociology, A.M. Lee, ed. New York: Barnes & Noble. Davies, James C. 1979 [1969]. “The J-Curve of Rising and Declining Satisfactions as a Cause of Revolution and Rebellion.” Pp. 415-36 in Violence in America: Historical & Comparative Perspectives, Graham and Gurr, Eds. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. [resource mobilization theories] ....................................................... Feb. 8 – McCarthy & Zald (1977) Feb. 10 – Feb. 15 – Gamson (1975), chs. 3, 6 Feb. 17 − Feb. 22 − Gamson (1975), ch. 7 Feb. 24 − Piven & Cloward (1977) Mar. 1 − Snow et al. (1980) By the end of the 1970s the Resource Mobilization framework came to dominate the study of social movements, and it remains important today. In contrast to the classical theories, this perspective emphasizes rational actors, organizations, and the strategic mobilization of people, money, and other resources necessary for social movements. We will discuss Mancur Olson’s important statement of the Free Rider Problem and a few of the early and influential studies of tactics and organizations. Readings McCarthy, John D., and Mayer N. Zald.1977. “Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A Partial Theory.” American Journal of Sociology 82: 1212-1241. Gamson, William. 1975. The Strategy of Social Protest. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard A. Cloward. 1977. Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail. New York, NY: Vintage Books. Snow, David A., Louis A. Zurcher, Jr., and Sheldon

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