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Analysis of New Social Movement Theory Essay

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Analysis of New Social Movement Theory
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In Johnston, Laraña, and Gusfield’s discussion of New Social Movement (NSM) theory, they identify the concept as a “double-edged sword,” in that is has both related itself to the changing shape of society but also overemphasized the newness of its model, almost divorcing itself from previous social movement theories instead of acknowledging and assessing the similarities between them and integrating what is useful from theories of the past. As its basic framework asserts that social movements now are not as linked to class as they were in the time of the emergence of Marxism and at the height of industrialist society (as Resource Mobilization Theory might stress), new
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The second characteristic of NSM’s is tied to the first, in that groups no longer tend to share an over-arching ideological framework, whereas in Marxist discourse, such a shared frame was the “unifying and totalizing element for collective action” (Buechler & Cylke 277). Ideological unity has been supplanted by “pragmatic orientations” where movement members seek “institutional reform” to attain greater power in decision making processes, promoting a “‘democratizing dynamic’” in social movement discourse.

The third characteristic describes the mode of identity formation that is predominant in NSM’s, whose center tends to be “cultural and symbolic issues,” in contrast to the mobilization around economic grievances in other social movements (Buechler & Cylke 277). The shared symbols and cultural meanings of members of NSM’s serve to redefine daily life in the context of the movement.

A blurring between public and private action or “relation between the individual and the collective” is the fourth and a very prominent trait of NSM’s (Buechler & Cylke 277). The “hippie” movement and vegetarianism are good examples of private behaviors being perceived as part of a social movement or being connected to a collective identity. Johnston, et al. explain this by indicating that “in and through movements that have no clear class or structural base, the movement becomes the focus for the individual’s definition of himself or herself, and
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