Chapter 21—Collective Action and
People sometimes lynch, riot, and engage in other forms of nonroutine group action to
correct perceived injustices. Such events are rare, short-lived, spontaneous, and often
violent. They subvert established institutions and practices. Nevertheless, most
nonroutine collective action requires social organization, and people who take part in
collective action often act in a calculated way.
Collective action can result in the creation of one or more formal organizations or
bureaucracies to direct and further the aims of its members. The institutionalization of
protest signifies the establishment of a social movement.
People are more inclined to rebel against existing conditions when strong social ties bind
them to many other people feel similarly wronged, when they have time, money, and
other resources needed to protest, and when political structures and processes give them
opportunities to express discontent.
For social movements to grow, members must make the activities, goals, and ideology of
the movement consistent with the interests, beliefs, and values of potential recruits.
The history of social movements is a struggle for the acquisition of constantly broadening
citizenship rights—and opposition to those struggles.
How to Spark a Riot
The Study of Collective Action and Social Movements
occurs when people act in unison to bring about or resist social,
political, and economic change. Some collective actions are routine. Others are
nonroutine. Routine collective actions are typically nonviolent and follow established
patterns of behavior in existing types of social structures. Nonroutine collective actions
take place when usual conventions cease to guide social action and people transcend,
bypass, or subvert established institutional patterns and social structures.
an enduring collective attempt to change part or all of the social order
by means of rioting, petitioning, striking, demonstrating, and establishing lobbies, unions,
and political parties