Week 11- Kurtzman/ Snow, et. al

To me, these articles tie together very well. Recruitment into social movements becomes more probable if an individual has a social tie to a member of the group (Snow research), and with the rapidly expanding social media networks, these personal relationships to group members seem much more likely. This, to me, related to the Kurtzman research because of the importance of the opposition’s power in the Iranian revolution, instead of just the perceived and structural opportunities in the Tocqueville analysis. I imagine that in the future, oppositional forces can recruit expansively due to individual’s vast personal ties in social media and they can be effective without structural weaknesses in the regimes they aim to topple or the goals they aim to achieve.

The Snow, et. al research aims to tackle questions surrounding differential recruitment in social networks and social movements. They ask why some organizations are able to attract a larger following than others and why people are attracted to particular movements. They conclude from their research that the likelihood of being recruited into a social movement/organization is highly dependent on two conditions: social links to one or more movement members (personal ties), and ‘the absence of countervailing networks.’ They also conclude that I opposition to traditional assumptions, organizational structure may be just as/ more important than goals and ideology in the recruitment process.

Kurtzman’s piece uses the Iranian revolution of 1979 to stimulate debate surrounding the Tocquevillean analyses of social movements that states structural opportunities (weaknesses of the state) need to be in accordance with the public’s perceived opportunities to successfully protest. Kurtzman’s case study of the 1979 Iranian revolution provides analysis that combats Tocqueville’s theory. He argues that the revolution may be a case where they need to re-think the relation between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ political opportunities. Irianians did had a strong perception that the regime was weakened or that structural opportunities were present, and as their numbers exceeded the ‘critical mass,’ the opposition was powerful enough to topple the regime. Kurtzman argues there may not have actually been real structural changes or openings.

My question to the class is, do these articles provide more ‘hope’ for the effectiveness of social media in contributing toward revolutions? And, if structural opportunities need not be present necessarily to topple a regime, does this invalidate Morozov’s theories regarding social media’s ‘bleak outlook’ in controlling government regimes?

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About tommyotoole

Student at The University of Michigan
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