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Social Movement Theory Today: Toward a Theory of Action?

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Abstract

Grand theories of social movements, relating them to History or Society, are being dismantled and reevaluated. In their place approaches are emerging that offer a cultural and emotional theory of action, allowing analysts to build from the micro-level to the macro-level in a more empirical way rather than deductively from the top down. Social movements are composed of individuals and their interactions. Rational-choice approaches recognize this, but their version of the calculating individual is too abstract to be realistic or helpful. Pragmatism, feminism, and related traditions are encouraging a rethinking of collective action.

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