How a Social Movement Succeeds

Resource mobilization theorists identify how social movements succeed, as summarized by Canadian Charles Dobson. A network of small informal groups attracts their friends who have a communications system, honest and optimistic leaders, ability to frame or explain their goal and attract funding sources. Groups with a single goal tend to be more successful, as are those with an office and staff. They keep members involved by taking action. People are more likely to participate if they live near others such as a university campus or city, feel many people will be involved in a successful campaign and a dramatic violent reaction generates sympathy. As Saul Alinsky said, “Your best action is often your opponent’s reaction.”


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