Social Movement Micromobilization

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Anthropology and Sociology


Micromobilization research constitutes a vital stream within social movement studies. Despite a wealth of empirical research and recent advances in multi-stage theory, research is still hampered by a myriad of issues. This article identifies conceptual, empirical, and methodological weaknesses in this sociological literature and offers solutions. First, the author provides a clear definition of micromobilization by synthesizing two distinct, yet interrelated research streams that, on the one hand, emphasize the processes through which social movement organizations attempt to recruit and influence potential supporters and participants and, on the other hand, enumerate various analytically distinct steps that make up micromobilization. Using this as a springboard, the author then evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of a longstanding, popular model of micromobilization that he terms the ‘affinity-initiated model.’ The model is extended in significant ways by merging insights from extant social movement, social psychology and network analysis literatures, pinpointing novel and overlooked ways social ties, in particular, facilitate the differentiation of individuals at analytically distinct steps in the micromobilization process. Finally, the author identifies several avenues for future research opened up by the analytic approach developed in this article.

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