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Title:Toward a Social Psychology of Social Movement Participation: Social Networks and the Process of Involvement
Author(s):Shoemaker, Susan Kay
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ross, Catherine E.
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Sociology, General
Abstract:Theory and research on social movement participation have often focused on only one aspect of involvement (such as structural background variables) and made deterministic assumptions. In this research, I investigated the multifaceted process which individuals undergo in becoming involved by doing in-depth interviews with sixty active and inactive feminists and traditional women using a snowball sampling technique.
In general, it appears that unresolved personal experiences combined with loss of value orientations lead to discontent. This results in social movement activity if the media and/or social network contacts supply acceptable interpretations of the discontent and positive images of a group worth seeking. Social networks had some influence on participation for 89% of the sample. Contacts who were influential often suggested readings, gave information about groups, and/or encouraged the expression of new ideas, rather than actually recruiting.
Feminists were more likely to be influenced by friend-colleague networks and by the media (especially reading) in becoming involved, while traditional women were more often influenced by family-church networks. Traditional women were more likely to comply with past and present network expectations, while feminists tended to comply with some extant network claims while also seeking new and dissimilar ties.
Participation could be blocked by lack of influence on one or more of the three main pathways into social movements (the experiential, media influence, and social network pathways). When all three pathways were operative, activity was most likely. Lack of positive social network effects could be compensated for by unusually large experiential and media influences. Those with little experiential influence were sometimes drawn into participation by close network contacts but tended to be inactive. Those who were most active usually had a variety of close and casual contacts who felt positive toward the movement at the time of first involvement.
Social networks facilitated recruitment rather than determining it. Interpretations made by individuals of their own experiences and of the weight to attach to messages from social network contacts were critical in determining whether or not they would participate in social movements.
Issue Date:1988
Description:272 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8908844
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1988

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