Resource mobilization and social movements

McCarthy, J. D., & Zald, M. N. (1977). Resource mobilization and social movements: A partial theory. American Journal of Sociology, 82(6), 1212-1241. Retrieved from

Resources mobilization is one of the sociology theories to explain the social movements. Resources mobilization is different from traditional approach. Traditional social movements based on the feeling of personal deprivation. They often used the confrontation tactics to persuade authority to change. One the contrary, resources mobilization believes that social movement is a common phenomenon of large society. People organize themselves for different goals in daily life, so the interaction between the movements and authorities can varies according to the needs of the movements and the resources. Resources mobilization encourages the full usage of infrastructure and resources within societies.

Each SMO has a set of target goals, a set of preferred change towards which it claims to be working. SMOs must possess resources. Individuals and other organizations control resources, which can induce legitimacy, money, facilities and labor. The amount of activity directed toward goal accomplish is crudely a function of resources controlled by an organization. Elites are those who control the largest portion of resources.

The difference between resources mobilization approach and traditional approach to social movements are similar the different understanding toward collective action and co-production. Some people believe that collective action should just refer to action taken by a homogenous group of people among themselves, while others believe that it is hard to find a collective action happens just among a homogenous group of people. There will always be power dynamic involved in the collective action. Resource mobilization recognizes the importance of resource in social movement, and provides explanations to the relations between resources and social movements organizations. However, the resources mobilization has rarely addressed the importance of participants. They focus on the “mobilizing” the constituents, not the self-mobilizing of constituents.


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