In the reading by Donatella Della Porta and Mario Diani, the authors explore the correlation between the individual and the collective perception of social movements (91). The complexity of the relationship between the two types of experience is expressed in the impossibility to predict which one is influenced by which one. To be more precise, the participants described in the reading each were a part of a social movement and experienced it both personally and collectively, and also were impacted by both of these perceptions. In other words, the participation in a collective activity often serves as a stimulus to enable personal growth and development of an individual (Della Porta and Diani 91).
In “Why Men Rebel” Gurr explores the reasons for political violence as a recognized risk to disrupt or break the political and economic situations in the country that are under normal circumstances thoroughly maintained and improved (8). The author distinguishes between three major determinants of the quality of the political acts of violence; they are intensity (the level of harm), scope (the number of people involved), and duration (the length of violence period) (Gurr 9). Besides, speaking of the sources and causes of the political violence, the author mentions that the people are likely to rebel when their value expectations (the goods they deem to be entitled to) and value capabilities (the goods they are able to acquire under the current economic and political conditions) (Gurr 13).
Olson also explores the correlation of the collective and individual identities in the reasons of the individuals to unite in social movements (1). The author specifies that the common understanding is that the groups of people act together based on the shared intentions that are driven by selfish interests. Further, the author argues that the organization within the groups is what works as the moving force of the social movements as well as the stimulus for the future activities. This force is also the fact that prevents the groups from disassembling and attracts the new participants thus strengthening the groups due to the collective pressure created by the cores of the groups. Besides, the collectivity and togetherness of the individuals within the groups is stimulated in the same manner (Olson 7).
How Do the Readings Relate to Our Understanding of Social Movements?
Social movements are a common happening since 1945 when the humanity learned its lesson about the harm that can be produced by authoritative governments (Gurr 3). The readings attempt to explain how the movements appear, what nourishes them, and what the causes of their likeliness are. The readings explore the role of the individual identities in the collective organization of movements and the influence of group pressure on the individual participants.
Questions for Discussion
- Is it possible to predict the moment at which the integrated individual identities begin to act as a group driven by the common goals that reflect their own desires?
- If not all common goals are shared within a group – why does the group continue to act as one? For instance, the common goal is to overthrow the government – but then only a part of the individuals is hoping for their region of the country to separate as an independent state, and the others want to be annexed by a neighboring state – yet, the group continues to work on the common goal because there is one shared point.
- The core of the group conditions the rest of it – who conditions the core?
Della Porta, Donatella and Mario Diani. Social Movements. Hoboken, New Jersey: Blackwell Publishing, n. d. Print.
Gurr, Ted Robert. Why Men Rebel. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, n. d. Print.
Olson, Mancur. The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1971. Print.