Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970

University of Chicago Press
3
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In this classic work of sociology, Doug McAdam presents a political-process model that explains the rise and decline of the black protest movement in the United States. Moving from theoretical concerns to empirical analysis, he focuses on the crucial role of three institutions that foster protest: black churches, black colleges, and Southern chapters of the NAACP. He concludes that political opportunities, a heightened sense of political efficacy, and the development of these three institutions played a central role in shaping the civil rights movement. In his new introduction, McAdam revisits the civil rights struggle in light of recent scholarship on social movement origins and collective action.

"[A] first-rate analytical demonstration that the civil rights movement was the culmination of a long process of building institutions in the black community."—Raymond Wolters, Journal of American History

"A fresh, rich, and dynamic model to explain the rise and decline of the black insurgency movement in the United States."—James W. Lamare, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 15, 2010
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Pages
346
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ISBN
9780226555553
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / United States / 20th Century
Political Science / Political Process / Political Advocacy
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Finding ways to understand the nature of social change and social order-from political movements to market meltdowns-is one of the enduring problems of social science. A Theory of Fields draws together far-ranging insights from social movement theory, organizational theory, and economic and political sociology to construct a general theory of social organization and strategic action. In a work of remarkable synthesis, imagination, and analysis, Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam propose that social change and social order can be understood through what they call strategic action fields. They posit that these fields are the general building blocks of political and economic life, civil society, and the state, and the fundamental form of order in our world today. Similar to Russian dolls, they are nested and connected in a broader environment of almost countless proximate and overlapping fields. Fields are mutually dependent; change in one often triggers change in another. At the core of the theory is an account of how social actors fashion and maintain order in a given field. This sociological theory of action, what they call "social skill," helps explain what individuals do in strategic action fields to gain cooperation or engage in competition. To demonstrate the breadth of the theory, Fligstein and McAdam make its abstract principles concrete through extended case studies of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise and fall of the market for mortgages in the U.S. since the 1960s. The book also provides a "how-to" guide to help others implement the approach and discusses methodological issues. With a bold new approach, A Theory of Fields offers both a rigorous and practically applicable way of thinking through and making sense of social order and change-and how one emerges from the other-in modern, complex societies.
Finding ways to understand the nature of social change and social order-from political movements to market meltdowns-is one of the enduring problems of social science. A Theory of Fields draws together far-ranging insights from social movement theory, organizational theory, and economic and political sociology to construct a general theory of social organization and strategic action. In a work of remarkable synthesis, imagination, and analysis, Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam propose that social change and social order can be understood through what they call strategic action fields. They posit that these fields are the general building blocks of political and economic life, civil society, and the state, and the fundamental form of order in our world today. Similar to Russian dolls, they are nested and connected in a broader environment of almost countless proximate and overlapping fields. Fields are mutually dependent; change in one often triggers change in another. At the core of the theory is an account of how social actors fashion and maintain order in a given field. This sociological theory of action, what they call "social skill," helps explain what individuals do in strategic action fields to gain cooperation or engage in competition. To demonstrate the breadth of the theory, Fligstein and McAdam make its abstract principles concrete through extended case studies of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise and fall of the market for mortgages in the U.S. since the 1960s. The book also provides a "how-to" guide to help others implement the approach and discusses methodological issues. With a bold new approach, A Theory of Fields offers both a rigorous and practically applicable way of thinking through and making sense of social order and change-and how one emerges from the other-in modern, complex societies.
By many measures--commonsensical or statistical--the United States has not been more divided politically or economically in the last hundred years than it is now. How have we gone from the striking bipartisan cooperation and relative economic equality of the war years and post-war period to the extreme inequality and savage partisan divisions of today? In this sweeping look at American politics from the Depression to the present, Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos argue that party politics alone is not responsible for the mess we find ourselves in. Instead, it was the ongoing interaction of social movements and parties that, over time, pushed Democrats and Republicans toward their ideological margins, undermining the post-war consensus in the process. The Civil Rights struggle and the white backlash it provoked reintroduced the centrifugal force of social movements into American politics, ushering in an especially active and sustained period of movement/party dynamism, culminating in today's tug of war between the Tea Party and Republican establishment for control of the GOP. In Deeply Divided, McAdam and Kloos depart from established explanations of the conservative turn in the United States and trace the roots of political polarization and economic inequality back to the shifting racial geography of American politics in the 1960s. Angered by Lyndon Johnson's more aggressive embrace of civil rights reform in 1964, Southern Dixiecrats abandoned the Democrats for the first time in history, setting in motion a sustained regional realignment that would, in time, serve as the electoral foundation for a resurgent and increasingly more conservative Republican Party.
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