Theories of Political Protest and Social Movements: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, Critique, and Synthesis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Theories of Political Protest and Social Movements

A Multidisciplinary Introduction, Critique, and Synthesis, 1st Edition

By Karl-Dieter Opp


404 pages | 40 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415483896
pub: 2009-04-06
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pub: 2009-04-06
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Political protest and social movements are ubiquitous phenomena. This book focuses on the current theoretical approaches that aim at explaining them: the theory of collective action, the resource mobilization perspective, political opportunity structure theory, the identity approach, the framing perspective, and the dynamics of contention approach. The book has three objectives: (1) Many basic concepts like political opportunities or identity are not clearly defined. It is further often a matter of interpretation what factors are supposed to affect which phenomena. The first aim is therefore to provide a detailed introduction to and a clear restatement of the theories. Only then is it possible to assess and improve them. (2) For each theory the major strengths and weaknesses are discussed, and various modifications and extensions are suggested. (3) Building on these analyses, it is shown how the theories can be integrated into a single theoretical paradigm: the structural-cognitive model.


"…an ideal resource for developing courses in social movements because of its systematic and detailed analysis of theories. It is also a solid foundation for deconstructing social movement perspectives" —Andreas Hoffbauer and Howard Ramos, Dalhousie University in the Canadian Journal of Sociology 35, 4

Table of Contents

Part 1: What Kind of Theory Do We Need and What Is a Good Theory? Part 2: Protest, Social Movements and Collective Action: Conceptual Clarifications and the Subject of the Book Part 3: Group Size, Selective Incentives, and Collective Action Part 4: Protest and Social Movements as Collective Action Part 5: The Resource Mobilization Perspective Part 6: Political Opportunity Structures, Protest and Social Movements Part 7: Collective Identity and Social Movement Activity Part 8: How Framing Influences Mobilization and Protest Part 9: Identity, Framing and Cognitive Balance: Toward a New Theory of Identity and Framing Part 10: The Dynamics of Contention Approach - Retreat to History? Part 11: The Structural-Cognitive Model: A Synthesis of Collective Action, Resource Mobilization, Political Opportunity, Identity, and Framing Perspectives Part 12: General Discussion, Conclusion, and an Agenda for Future Research

About the Author

Karl-Dieter Opp is Professor at the University of Leipzig (Germany) and Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington (Seattle). His areas of interest include collective action and political protest, rational choice theory, philosophy of the social sciences and the emergence and effects of norms and institutions.

Karl-Dieter Opp is the author of The Rationality of Political Protest (1989), coauthor of The Origins of a Spontaneous Revolution. East Germany 1989 (1995) and editor (with M. Hechter) of Social Norms (2001).

Karl-Dieter Opp has widely published in the field of social movements and protest. Articles were published in the journals mentioned before, and I have written two books about the theme.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General