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Anthropology and the Study of Social Movements

  • Ton Salman
  • Willem Assies
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Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Abstract

When Barrington Moore († 2005) in the 1987 book The Social Bases of Obedience and Revolt addressed the question of why people at the bottom of society would most often accept their lot, and only in exceptional circumstances take to the barricades, he underscored what anthropologists had been discovering whenever they studied social movements: to understand collective action, the political and “grievances” focuses will not do. It is impossible to analyze social movements if one confines the effort to making an analysis of political power relations, or if one trusts on the automatism that, in the end, accumulated frustration and anger will produce insurrection. Moore’s approach was anthropological in the sense that he explicitly took account of the aspirations and doubts, and the adherence to the “lived normality,” of the rank and file of the people who, if at all, make social movements. His study of the harsh lot of industrial workers in early twentieth century Germany attempted to explain why overwhelming majorities were hesitant to rebel, and why, if they did, they often demanded piecemeal improvements rather than radical, structural changes. The participant’s vantage point and culture, at the micro-level of lived and shared daily life, took central stage in his analysis.

Keywords

Collective Action Social Movement North American Free Trade Agreement Feminist Movement Social Movement Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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SUGGESTED READINGS

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ton Salman
    • 1
  • Willem Assies
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Cultural AnthropologyVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Van Vollenhoven InstituteUniversity of LeidenLeidenthe Netherlands

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