Week 11: Jamie Schwarz

This week’s readings focused on how social movements are able to take shape in terms of finding vulnerability of the government or organizational structure. We learned that a movement relies heavily on the organization and recruitment strategies because these strategies vary from one movement to another. An argument can be made that both vulnerability of the government and the structuring of an organization are key in order to execute a successful movement.

Kurtzman focused on four possible weaknesses within a government that provide hypothetical or perceived opportunities for movements to succeed but didn’t actually paralyze the Iranian state. The movement gathered its strength because of the perceived strength of the opposition. Even people who didn’t align in beliefs came together because they thought that they had to. But, “there was a mismatch between the structure of political opportunities and popular perceptions of political opportunities.”(164)

The most important point that Snow et al. made in relation to my argument is that the recruitment tactics that an organization uses must match what the organization requires because they feed off of each other. They found that people may be recruited simply in the absence of a countervailing network. I really thought that this part was particularly confusing because it questions how recruiting methods can even be successful at all because there are so many different elements of the process.

My question for the class this week: How important do you think that it is to recruit people who genuinely believe in the movement? Is it a question in quality or quantity?

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2 Responses to Week 11: Jamie Schwarz

  1. cnspin12 says:

    I think it is a combination of both. You need the people who are passionate and have strong feelings towards the movement but you also need the followers. It isn’t a question of whether a movement will benefit from quality or quantity because the answer is both. The leaders with passionate feelings are necessary to keep the group moving, to force the social issues, and to voice the preliminary opinions of the group. However, the mere quantity of supporters and the numbers creating the force behind the leaders is necessary for a successful movement. A few strong-willed people just stir things up a bit and a ton of ill-informed or not passionate people are just as ineffective. So together the quality of people and quantity of people can make a movement successful. You cannot go anywhere without a leader but a leader is stationary without support.

    For example, in Washington DC there is a woman sitting in a tent outside of the White House protesting nuclear war. She has been there for years and will continue to be there for years to come. Her strong opinion, while valuable, has been heard by many but not successful in creating a movement. She needs the numbers to support her in order to be successful.

  2. yuille says:

    Both quality and quantity are important, but I think quality is a bit more important to the actual movement. If you don’t have people that believe in the movement, it’s unlikely the movement will be very successful. It’s true that a movement with only a few people could struggle to generate much action, but just having a big turnout doesn’t guarantee success, either. Just look at the Occupy Wall Street protests. The numbers are very big in many cases, but is the movement actually accomplishing anything? Not exactly. I suppose that also goes back to the quality of the people involved in the movement, so it’s not just one aspect of it.

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