Abstracts of Articles

Critical Mass Theory and its precursors

1. Selective Incentives in an Apex Game: An Experiment in Coalition Formation. Pamela Oliver . The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Mar., 1980), pp. 113-141. Abstract: The effect of a selective incentive system on the likelihood of collective action is tested using an experiment with an Apex Game, a power-imbalanced game in which the weak players choose between competing against each other to form an alliance with the strong player or cooperating with each other in a unanimous alliance of weak players (excluding the strong player). A theoretical introduction analyzes the nature and importance of selective incentives for collective action and demonstrates the relevance of Apex Game experiments for studies of collective action. Results confirm the predictions: Formation of the coalition of weak players rises from 20% in the control condition to 62% when a negative selective incentive system is added. Article *

2. “Rewards and Punishments as Selective Incentives for Collective Action: Theoretical Investigations? Pamela Oliver. American Journal of Sociology; 1980, 85, 6, May, 1356-1375. Abstract: Positive & negative selective incentives are shown to have different structural implications when used to induce collective action. Positive selective incentives are effective for motivating small numbers of cooperators & generate pressures toward smaller, more elite actions, unless the incentives have jointness of supply. Negative selective incentives are effective for motivating unanimous cooperation, but their use is often uneven & cyclical, & may generate hostilities which disrupt the cooperation they enforce. Examples of these dynamics are found in many arenas of collective action & social movements. Article * Correction to proof in appendix.

3. Rewards and Punishments as Selective Incentives: An Apex Game. Pamela Oliver. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 28, No. 1. (Mar., 1984), pp. 123-148. Abstract: Apex games place weak players in the formal equivalent of a multiperson prisoner’s dilemma in which each weak player must choose between competing against the other weak players for the opportunity to coalesce with the strong player or cooperating with the other weak players to produce a jointly preferable outcome. Punishments, not rewards, are predicted to be effective for enforcing cooperation by the weak players. Fifty-four groups of four subjects each played the weak role in a five-person apex game with a confederate playing the apex (strong) role in a 3× 3 design with factors of low, medium, and high levels of rewards and punishments available as incentives. As predicted, punishments but not rewards had a significant impact on increasing cooperation. Despite this effect, many groups experienced harmful effects of punishment availability that increased the risk of retaliatory spirals. It is concluded that a second-order dilemma may be seen in prisoner’s dilemmas, since punishments are both necessary for enforcing cooperation and detrimental to that cooperation. Article *

4. A Theory of the Critical Mass. I. Interdependence, Group Heterogeneity, and the Production of Collective Action. Pamela Oliver, Gerald Marwell, Ruy Teixeira, American Journal of Sociology; 1985, 91, 3, Nov, 522-556. Abstract: Collective action usually depends on a “critical mass” that behaves differently from typical group members. At times, the critical mass provides some level of the good for others who do nothing, while at other times, it pays the start-up costs & induces widespread collective action. Formal analysis, supplemented by simulations, shows that the first scenario is most likely when the production function relating inputs of resource contributions to outputs of a collective good is decelerating (characterized by diminishing marginal returns), whereas the second scenario is most likely when the production function is accelerating (characterized by increasing marginal returns). Decelerating production functions yield either surpluses of contributors or order effects in which contributions are maximized if the least interested contribute first, thus generating strategic gaming & competition among potential contributors. The start-up costs in accelerating production functions create severe feasibility problems for collective action, & contractual or conventional resolutions to collective dilemmas are most appropriate when the production function is accelerating. Article *

5. The Paradox of Group Size in Collective Action: A Theory of the Critical Mass. II. Pamela Oliver and Gerald Marwell. American Sociological Review; 1988, 53, 1, Feb, 1-8. Abstract: Many sociologists incorrectly believe that larger groups are less likely to support collective action than are smaller ones. Hypothetical simulations are presented to support the argument that the effect of group size, in fact, depends on costs. If the costs of collective goods rise with the number who share in them, larger groups act less frequently than smaller ones. If the costs vary little with group size, larger groups should exhibit more collective action than smaller ones because larger groups have more resources & are more likely to have a critical mass of highly interested & resourceful actors. The positive effects of group size increase with group heterogeneity & nonrandom social ties. Paradoxically, when groups are heterogeneous, fewer contributors may be needed to provide a good to larger groups, making collective action less complex & less expensive. Article *

6. “Social Networks and Collective Action: A Theory of the Critical Mass. III.” (Gerald Marwell, Pamela E. Oliver, and Ralph Prahl). American Journal of Sociology Volume 94, Number 3, pages 502-534. (1988) (NOTE: This contains significant typographical errors which are corrected in an erratum published in Volume 94, Number 4, January 1989, pp. 519-522.) Copy of article with erratum incorporated. Abstract: Most analyses of collective action agree that overcoming the freerider problem requires organizing potential contributors, thus making their decisions interdependent. The potential for organizing depends on the social ties in the group, particularly on the overall density or frequency of ties, on the extent to which they are centralized in a few individuals, & on the costs of communicating & coordinating actions through these ties. Mathematical analysis & computer simulations extend a formal microsocial theory of interdependent collective action to treat social networks & organization costs. As expected, the overall density of social ties in a group improves its prospects for collective action. More significant, because less expected, are the findings that show that the centralization of network ties always has a positive effect on collective action & that the negative effect of costs on collective action declines as the group’s resource or interest heterogeneity increases. These nonobvious results are due to the powerful effects of selectivity, the organizer’s ability to concentrate organizing efforts on those individuals whose potential contributions are the largest.

7. “A Theory of the Critical Mass, VI. Cliques and Collective Action.” (Gerald Marwell and Pamela Oliver). In Henrik Kreutz and Johann Bacher, eds. Disziplin und Kreativität. Sozialwissenschaftliche Computersimulation: theoretische Experimente und praktische Anwendung. Opladen: Leske + Budrich. 1991.

8. “Reach and Selectivity as Strategies of Recruitment for Collective Action: A Theory of the Critical Mass, V.” Ralph Prahl, Gerald Marwell, and Pamela E. Oliver. Journal of Mathematical Sociology; 1991, 16, 2, 137-164. Abstract: A mathematical model is developed to represent the process by which an organizer enacts a strategy to recruit participants for a collective action campaign. Elements of the model include: (1) the reach of the strategy – the sheer number of people recruited; (2) the selectivity of the strategy – the degree to which it focuses recruitment efforts on those with the greatest interest & resource levels; (3) interdependence – how recruits take into account the effect of their actions on those of others; & (4) the production function – the relationship between the total amount recruits contribute to the campaign to the amount of the collective good that is obtained. For the types of campaigns investigated, both reach & selectivity have thresholds that must be achieved if any of the collective good is to be obtained. Once all necessary thresholds are reached, further increases in reach or selectivity for resource are more efficacious than further increases in selectivity for interest. Numerous implications of these findings for real-life recruitment strategies are discussed. Article *

9. “Modelling the Second Order Problem is Not Easy: Comment on Heckathorn.” Rationality and Society 2: 188-122 (1990).

10. The Critical Mass in Collective Action : A Micro-social Theory. Gerald Marwell and Pamela Oliver (1993). Cambridge; New York, Cambridge University Press. Google Books Cambridge University Press Book description: People who have a common interest in a collective good do not necessarily find it easy to act collectively in pursuit of that interest. There is usually some mismatch between individual and group interests. There may be an efficacy problem, when no individual is able to provide enough common benefit to make acting worthwhile, or a free-rider problem, when most or all individuals hope that someone else will provide the good. Any attempt to overcome these problems through coordination and collaboration entails costs and problems of its own. This book is a formal mathematical analysis of some of the processes whereby groups solve the problems of collective action. The authors break new ground in showing that the problem of collective action requires a model of group process and group heterogeneity and cannot be deduced from simple models of individual behavior. They emphasize the role of small subgroups of especially motivated and resourceful individuals who form the “critical mass” that sets collective action in motion.


1. The critical mass and the problem of collective action
2. Building blocks: goods, groups and processes
3. The paradox of group size
4. The dynamics of production functions
5. Social networks: density, centralization and cliques
6. Selectivity in social networks
7. Reach and selectivity as strategies of recruitment
8. Unfinished business

11. “Theory is Not a Social Dilemma.” (Gerald Marwell and Pamela Oliver). Social Psychology Quarterly 57 (December): 373. 1994. Abstract: This paper presents a reply by Gerald Marwell and Pamela Oliver to two reviews of their book, The Critical Mass in Collective Action: A Micro-Social Theory. Theory is a public good. It is non-excludable, in that anyone can use it whether or not she or he contributed to bringing it about. Like all public goods, it has specific properties. It is very high in jointness of supply–use of the theory by one person does not diminish the amount of it available to another. And, more interestingly, despite theory’s character as a public good, authors of theory welcome free riding. In fact, free riders create even more incentive to contribute new theory than would no free riding at all. One of our more strongly held beliefs is that the creation of understanding is a collective effort. The authors of the two reviews, Karen S. Cook, David Karp and Bert Klandermans, are among the ablest colleagues in the task of understanding collective social processes. Marwell and Oliver thank them for their detailed and generous attention to their work. In general, they agree with their comments.

12. Oliver, Pamela E., and Gerald Marwell. 2001. “Whatever Happened to Critical Mass Theory? A Retrospective and Assessment.” Sociological Theory 19:292-311.
Between 1983 & 1993, the authors published a series of articles & a book promulgating & explicating “Critical Mass Theory,” a theory of public goods provision in groups. In this article, we seek to trace the growth, change, or decline of the theory, primarily through an analysis of all journal citations of the theory. We find that the majority of citations are essentially gratuitous or pick a single point from the theory, which may or may not be central to the theory. However, we identify four lines of theorizing that creatively use substantial parts of Critical Mass Theory in their own development: (1) theories relevant to issues in communication studies such as interaction media & shared databases; (2) Macy’s work on adaptive learning models; (3) Heckathorn’s models of sanctioning systems; & (4) theories that are centrally concerned with issues of influence in collective goods processes. A few additional, less-developed lines of work are also discussed. None of this work identifies itself as being itself “Critical Mass Theory,” but many of the innovations & assertions of the theory are important bases for its development. 2 Tables, 56 References. Article

13. “Recent Developments in Critical Mass Theory.” (Pamela E. Oliver and Gerald Marwell). Pp. 172-193 in New Directions in Sociological Theory: Growth of Contemporary Theories, Morris Zelditch and Joseph Berger, editors. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. 2002 Abstract: Contemporary developments within the critical mass theory research program are investigated. An overview of critical mass theory’s origins emphasizes the perspective’s deviation from Mancur Olson’s (1965) understanding of collective action. Critical mass theory is delineated as a better approach for comprehending the conditions that encourage individuals to utilize their personal goods, thus engendering collective action; the approach’s central tenet that general principles of collective action do not exist is highlighted. The application of critical mass theory in contemporary communications literature & research that has addressed adaptive learning models, sanctioning systems, influence models, & networks is considered. It is concluded that critical mass theory has made scholars realize that multiple forms of collective action exist & that additional empirical research is needed to strengthen the theoretical perspective. 43 References. J. W. Parker


Coevolution and other formal theories of collective action

1. Formal Models of Collective Action. Pamela E. Oliver. Annual Review of Sociology; 1993, 19, 271-300. Abstract: Examines four types of models of collective action (CA): (1) single-actor models that treat the group behavior as given; (2) models of the interdependent aggregation of individual choices into CA; (3) models of the collective decisions of individuals with different interests; & (4) models of the dynamic interactions among collective actors & their opponents. All models require simplifying assumptions about some aspects of a situation so that others may be addressed. The benefits & drawbacks of each model are discussed, & greater attention is urged to technical issues of formal symbolic mathematical analysis, experimental design, response surface analysis, & technical problems in the reduction & presentation of CA. Article *

2. “Formal Models in the Study of Social Movements.” (Pamela E. Oliver and Daniel J. Myers) Methods of Research in Social Movements, Bert Klandermans and Suzanne Staggenborg, editors. University of Minnesota Press. 2002. This chapter gives examples of formal models and simulation in studying collective action and provides some principles guiding good work. Steps: 1) acquire knowledge about the process you want to model; clearly specify the kind of problem you wish to solve; wlect the basic modeling strategy; start simply and build carefully; face the problem of metric; explicitly identify scope conditions and asumptions; analyze the model; assess the fit of the model to criterion data; write about your model. Article

3. “Networks, Diffusion, and Cycles of Collective Action.” (Pamela E. Oliver and Daniel J. Myers). Social Movement Analysis: The Network Perspective edited by Mario Diani and Doug McAdam. Oxford University Press. 2003. This paper shows how different “network” arguments about how protest spreads imply quite different underlying mechanisms that in turn produce different diffusion processes. There is considerable ambiguity abiout the relationships among networks, diffusion, and action cycles and the way these can be identified in empirical data. We thus both seek to unpack the “network” concept into different kinds of processes, and then show how these different network processes affect the diffusion processes we are studying. We sketch out some formal models to capture some of these dimensions. Article

4. Pamela E. Oliver & Daniel J. Myers. “The Coevolution of Social Movements” Mobilization 8: 1-25. 2003.Abstract. Movements develop in coevolution with regimes and other actors in their environments. Movement trajectories evolve through stochastic processes and are constrained but not determined by structures. Coevolution provides a theoretical structure for organizing existing understandings of social movements and sharpening future research. Stochastic thinking is essential for recognizing the both the volatility and path dependence of collective action and its underlying structural constraints. Formal models of diffusion, adaptive learning, mutual reinforcement, and inter-actor competition are developed and compared with empirical protest series. Responses to exogenous reinforcement, mutual adaptation in which failure is as important as success, and inter-actor competition are the most plausible mechanisms to account for empirical patterns. Trajectories of action depend upon the number of discrete random actors. Overall, the analysis suggests that movement dynamics are shaped more by interactions with other actors than by processes internal to a movement, and that empirical analysis must be sensitive to the level of aggregation of the data. Article

5. Myers, Daniel J. and Pamela E. Oliver. 2008. “The Opposing Forces Diffusion Model: The Initiation and Repression of Collective Violence.” Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict 1: 164-189. Abstract. This paper re-evaluates an important deterministic model of collective violence diffusion and demonstrates a series of shortcomings in it. In response, a new model, the Opposing Forces Diffusion model, is introduced. The Opposing Forces model treats observed event cycles as the result of two distinct underlying logistic diffusion processes, one for provocation of events and one for repression. The result is a model that is more flexible, more straightforwardly interpreted, and considerably more accurate than its predecessors. Furthermore, because the new model treats provocation and repression as two distinct processes, they can be disentangled and subjected to lower-level scrutiny. Preprint


News Coverage of Protests & Demonstrations

1. “How Events Enter the Public Sphere: Conflict, Location, and Sponsorship in Local Newspaper Coverage of Public Events.” Oliver, Pamela E., and Daniel J. Myers. 1999. American Journal of Sociology 105:38-87. Of 382 public events in police records for 1994 in Madison, WI, 45% conveyed a message, 14% involved social conflict, & 13% were standard protest events. Local newspapers covered 32% of all events, favoring those that were large, involved conflict, were sponsored by business groups, & occurred in central locations. The more liberal paper also favored rallies & events sponsored by national social movement organizations or recreational groups. Discussion centers on how these factors shape the content of the public sphere. Article including better copies of figures

2. “Political Processes and Local Newspaper Coverage of Protest Events: From Selection Bias to Triadic Interactions” (Pamela E. Oliver and Gregory M. Maney) American Journal of Sociology 106 (2 September) 2000: 463-505. Abstract: Political processes affect both protest & news coverage of protest, but past research has failed to examine these interactions. Data from one city reveal the interaction of political process, news value, & news routine factors in news coverage of protest vs other message events. Protests about legislative issues received the most coverage. Controlling for issue type, protest forms were covered less when the legislature was in session, while other forms (largely ceremonies & speeches) were covered more. Yearly variations in coverage rates of nonlegislative protests distorted the apparent shape of the protest cycle. Other predictive factors include size, police involvement, conflict, counterdemonstrators, amplified sound, Monday event, religious sponsorship (negative), & annual or holiday event. 8 Tables, 2 Figures, 1 Appendix, Article

3. “Finding Event Records: Timing, Searching, Sources.” (Gregory M. Maney and Pamela E. Oliver). Sociological Methods and Research, 2001. vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 131-169(39) Researchers collecting data on collective events have often relied on ad hoc procedures and untested assumptions. A detailed comparison of different sources and datagathering strategies for one month of events in one city challenges several assumptions made in prior studies. Police agencies and news sources have their own logics of jurisdiction, producing both incomplete and selective records of collective events. Different strategies for searching newspapers for stories about events yield very different results. News items about events do not occur at the same time as the events but are dispersed around them. All three of these patterns vary greatly from source to source and locale to locale. Comparisons of research findings between localities must more explicitly consider these selection issues. All data collection projects need to include methodological analyses of selection structures in their particular cases so that there can be some basis for comparison between studies. Article

4. “Political Processes, Social Networks, and Local Newspaper Coverage of Public Events” Gregory M. Maney and Pamela E. Oliver. Paper presented at 2003 meeting of American Sociological Association, Atlanta, August 17, 2003. Although media scholars recognize that “news” is constructed in interaction between reporters and newsmakers, the significance of this has not been recognized in studies of the news coverage of protest. Social network ties between newsmakers and news reporters can affect the record of events that appear in newspapers. For a sample of 143 events in a small midwestern city, we examine the relation between prior news coverage of the organization sponsoring an event and the amount and prominence of news coverage an event receives, controlling for a wide variety of factors found to be relevant in prior research. Consistent with prior research, large events and those linked to institutional politics were more likely to receive at least some news coverage. However, prior news coverage of the event’s organizational sponsor did not have a significant effect on news coverage. The volume and prominence of coverage, for events that received at least some coverage, had somewhat different patterns of effect. Large events and events involving conflict received more words of coverage and more coverage in news sections or section front pages; protests at the capitol received more prominent coverage than other protests. Protests received more news coverage when they were large, while size did not affect the volume or prominence of coverage for other events, except that all events were more likely to make the front page the bigger they were. Competition for news hold space from the state legislature especially affected the volume of news coverage for protests. There was a strong interaction effect across all measures of volume and prominence for events that received at least some coverage, so that events that combine a tie to institutional politics with higher levels of prior news coverage for the sponsoring organization receive more and more visible coverage, while the coefficients on the main effects are negative, implying that it takes both factors to obtain a high volume of highly visible news coverage. Full Text


Repression & Criminal Justice

1. “Repression and Crime Control: Why Social Movements Scholars Should Pay Attention to Mass Incarceration as a Form of Repression” 2008. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 13: 1-24 The disciplinary insurgency that created the academic field of social movement studies distinguished dissent from crime. This dichotomy has led the field to ignore the relation between the repression of dissent and the control of “ordinary” crime. There was massive repression in the wake of the Black riots of the 1960s that did not abate when the riots abated. The acceleration of the mass incarceration of African Americans in the United States after 1980 suggests the possibility that crime control and especially the drug war have had the consequence of repressing dissent among the poor. Social movement scholars have failed to recognize these trends as repression because of the theoretical turn that built too strong a conceptual wall between crime and dissent. Revisiting this dichotomy is essential for
understanding repression today. Article

2. Repressive Injustice. Pamela E. Oliver and James E. Yocom. Book in progress. Links theories of repression and theories of crime control and applies this to empirical analysis of racial patterns of incarceration in US 1978-2007 and racial patterns of prison admissions in US states and metropolitan areas 1983-2003.


Doing Public Sociology

1. “Talking About Racial Disparities in Imprisonment: A Reflection on Experiences in Wisconsin” 2009. Pages 281-298 in Handbook of Public Sociology, edited by Vincent Jeffries. Rowman and Littlefield. In this article I discuss my experiences doing “public sociology” around racial disparities. I stress the interplay of personal and professional motivations, the importance of professional skills, the matter of listening as well as talking and engaging multiple publics and the dynamics of real gropus that are trying to solve problems, not just study them. Article preprint

2. “Data to Bring Justice: Addressing Disparities in the Criminal Justice System.” 2011. In Philip Nyden. Leslie Hossfelt, and Gwen Nyden (eds.) Public Sociology: Research Action and Change. Pine Forge Press. A short summary of my public work. Article preprint


Other Social Movements Theory and Research

1. The Mobilization of Paid and Volunteer Activists in the Neighborhood Movement. Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change; 1983, 5, 133-170. Classic commitment theories of social movement participation are compared with the collective action theory/resource mobilization perspective for explaining the mobilization of paid activists (PAs). Commitment theories assume that PAs are the most dedicated & ideologically committed members of movement organizations, who work their way up the ranks of the volunteers. Collective action theory, in contrast, suggests that: salaries can compensate for lower dedication or ideological fervor, job opportunities recruit activists, & PAs tend to be divorced from their constituencies. Making this comparison requires taking account of the 1960s, which both increased external funding for social movement activists & created a “political generation” of those who experienced the tumultuous movements of the period. Questionnaire data were collected from 166 PAs & volunteer neighborhood activists who attended the 1979 convention of the National Assoc of Neighborhoods. Hypotheses derived from the two theoretical approaches indirectly test their explanatory power. Findings supporting commitment theories include that there is no difference in the social & political community linkages of PAs & volunteer activists, & that PAs have significantly longer histories of movement activism & more “leftist” political orientations. Findings supporting collective action theories include that volunteer activists come largely from occupations with high discretionary time, & persons who became 18 during the 1960s are significantly more likely to become PAs than those older or younger, when movement history & political beliefs are controlled. It is concluded that activists are mobilized through commitment processes, not job opportunities, but that this mobilization is constrained by the availability of resources. Article

2. “If You Don’t Do It, Nobody Else Will”: Active and Token Contributors to Local Collective Action. Pamela Oliver. American Sociological Review; 1984, 49, 5, Oct, 601-610. It is commonly assumed that people participate more in collective action when they believe others will; but local activists often say, “I did it because nobody else would.” Interview responses demonstrating differences among 1,456 Detroit, Mich, residents who were nonmembers, token members, or active members (either currently active or past leaders) of their neighborhood associations reveal that active members are significantly more pessimistic than token members about the prospects for neighborhood collective action. Other findings are that: active members are more highly educated than token members; past leaders know more people & have higher interest in local problems; & currently active members have more close ties in the neighborhood, like the neighborhood less, & are less likely to be homeowners. Contrasts between members & nonmembers are similar to those found in previous research. 3 Tables Article

3. Collective Action Theory and Social Movements Research. Gerald Marwell and Pamela Oliver. Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change; 1984, 7, 1-27. Current social movement theory commonly refers to the collective action problem posed by Mancur Olson, Jr., but has provided little sustained attention to linking collective action theory with social movements research. Although sharing a central emphasis on instrumental or goal-oriented behavior, collective action & social movements cannot be directly equated because their levels of analysis are different. After reviewing the usual treatments of units of analysis in social movements research, the concept of a “collective campaign” – time- & space-bounded sets of activities oriented toward the same goal – is proposed as a mediating concept useful for research. Four prescriptions for social movements research are detailed: (1) identify the relevant interest & its characteristics; (2) define the ecological-temporal populations at risk of action & their characteristics; (3) identify the set of actions likely to be involved; & (4) identify the full range of possible outcomes. Finally, it is shown how this approach might be applied in a specific case, resistance to school closings. . Article

4. Bringing the Crowd Back In: The Nonorganizational Elements of Social Movements. Pamela E. Oliver. Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change; 1989, 11, 1-30. Social movements are exceedingly complex phenomena encompassing the actions of organizations & their members as well as the actions of nonmembers in activities that organizations have nothing to do with, & many even oppose. Crowds & diffuse collectivities are important parts of social movements. An understanding of social movements is sketched here that integrates their organizational & nonorganizational elements & the relations among them, & views them as large, complex sets of collective events oriented toward a general social change goal. Actions can affect the likelihood of other actions by creating occasions for action, altering beliefs, or adding knowledge. The effects of one nation on another are filtered through communication networks & the mass media. Giving attention to how actions affect other actions permits greater understanding of the dynamic processes involved in the growth of widespread social movements. Article

5. Contradictions between National and Local Organizational Strength: The Case of the John Birch Society. Pamela Oliver and Mark Furman. International Social Movement Research; 1989, 2, 155-177. A review of the literature on social movements supplemented by observations on the anticommunist John Birch Society, suggests that movement organization is not arrayed on a simple strong-weak continuum; strength is evaluated by the presence of a stable financial base & the ability to mobilize mass members. Some social movement organizations (SMOs) maintain financial resources for long periods without being able to foster widespread mobilization of active participation; others mobilize activity without financial stability. At the national level, SMOs must achieve financial stability & local chapters must engage in activities meaningful to their members. SMOs that combine national policy-influencing activities with active local participation illustrate the dynamics of social movements, especially the conflicts & contradictions that arise when different levels of an organization do not work in tandem. 34 References. M. Lemons Article

6. “Mobilizing Technologies For Collective Action.” (Pamela Oliver and Gerald Marwell) In Aldon Morris and Carol Mueller, editors, Frontiers of Social Movement Theory. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1992. This paper concerns the problem of mobilization: how activists go about getting other people to make contributions of time or money. It considers the decisions of both activists and nonactivists. Time and money are structurally different as mobilized resources. The mobilization of money leads to the world of professionalized activism. The mobilization of volunteers leads to the world of routine and social reciprocity. Both have limitations, and both impose constraints on strategies of goal-attainment.  Article

7. “Social Movements and Collective Behavior: Social Psychological Dimensions and Considerations.” (David A. Snow and Pamela E. Oliver). In Karen Cook, Gary Fine, and James House, eds., Sociological Perspectives on Social Psychology. Allyn and Bacon. 1994. A review of the social psychology of social movements. Copy of book chapter.

8. Rothman, Franklin Daniel, and Pamela E. Oliver. 1999. “From Local to Global: The Anti-Dam Movement in Southern Brazil, 1979-1992.” Mobilization 4:41-57.
A case study of the antidam movement in southern Brazil shows how particular local mobilizations are linked to national & global economics, politics, & social movements. In the early stages, the progressive church was the predominant influence & was largely responsible for framing the key issue as peasants’ right to land, while Left intellectuals contributed a class analytical frame. After 1988, the weakening of the regional power company (ELETROSUL), crisis of the Left after the fall of the Berlin Wall, defeat of the agrarian reform movement, rise of national & international ecology movements, & antidam movement’s need for a broader political & financial base all contributed to the adoption of a broadened & more proactive land/energy/ecology frame & an alliance with international environmentalism. Article

9. Oliver, Pamela E., and Hank Johnston. 2000. “What a Good Idea! Ideologies and Frames in Social Movement Research.” Mobilization 5:37-54. Frame theory is often credited with “bringing ideas back in” social movement studies, but frames are not the only useful ideational concepts. The older, more politicized concept of ideology needs to be used in its own right & not recast as a frame. Frame theory is rooted in linguistic studies of interaction, & shows how shared assumptions & meanings shape the interpretation of events. Ideology is rooted in politics & the study of politics, & points to coherent systems of ideas that provide theories of society coupled with value commitments & normative implications for promoting or resisting social change. Ideologies can function as frames, they can embrace frames, but there is more to ideology than framing. Frame theory offers a relatively shallow conception of the transmission of political ideas as marketing & resonating, while recognition of the complexity & depth of ideology points to the social construction processes of thinking, reasoning, educating, & socializing. Social movements can only be understood by linking social psychological & political sociology concepts & traditions, not by trying to rename one group in the language of the other. 53 References.Article (also see Snow & Benford’s reply and our rejoinder) A reply to David A. Snow & Robert D. Benford’s comments on the authors’ “What a Good Idea! Ideologies and Frames in Social Movement Research” (both, 2000) notes that the article was intended to provoke dialogue & revive theorizing about the relation between ideology & frames. Snow & Benford object to use of the noun frame, rather than the verb framing even though most research in the framing perspective does the same. The noun-verb distinction is at the core of their other criticisms, & it is argued that the noun is an interpretive frame described as a cognitive structure, while the verb describes framing processing as unique entities. The noun moves the framing process forward & does not detract from the knowledge that “all social life is emergent, negotiated, & contextual.” The notion that framing as an activity is more observable than ideology is contested, & new methodologies are examined, eg, story grammar analysis, that hold promise for enhancing both the frame/framing & ideology perspectives.

10. “Emerging Trends in the Study of Protest and Social Movements.” Pamela E. Oliver, Jorge Cadena-Roa, Kelley D. Strawn. Research in Political Sociology, Vol. 11. Betty A. Dobratz, Timothy Buzzell, Lisa K. Waldner, eds. Stanford, CT: JAI Press, Inc. 2003. Abstract Four trends in the study of social movements are identified: a case base expanding beyond the social reform movements of Europe and Anglo-America to encompass other regions and types of movement; a theoretical synthesis that integrates protest with institutional politics and focuses on mechanisms and processes rather than causes and effects; a growing focus on events as units of analysis; and increasing integration of social psychological and cultural theories of social construction with structuralist accounts of movements. Taken together, they promise theory that is both broader in scope and better able to address the diversity of social movements. PDF preprint of chapter. Article Copy

11. “Ethnicity, Repression, and Fields of Action in Movement Mobilization,” 2013 in Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, Conny Roggeband, and Bert Klandermans, eds., The Changing Dynamics of Contention. University of Minnesota Press. 2013. Typology of movements by ethnicity: advantaged vs. disadvantaged and ethnic majority vs. ethnic minority. Problems of repression of minority movements and backlash cycle of grievance and isolation. Complexity of movement fields. Analysis of the movement against racial disparities in incarceration as involving many complexity. There are three different movement/counter-movement oppositions: Black movement vs. white supremacy or “colorblind racism”; anti-crime movement vs. criminal justice reformers; Democrat vs. Republican partisanship. There are professional reformers and formerly incarcerated and low income people. Intra-movement conflicts along these various axes are described. A conclusion addresses more recent issues.  Preprint of book chapter



1. “Sex, Race, and Class Bias in Census Bureau Reporting of Occupations: A Preliminary Assessment.” (Pamela Oliver) Review of Public Data Use, Volume 2, Number 3, pages 10-13. (1974) Reporting of occupations within the broad occupational categories of the 1970 Decennial Census of Population varies by sex and race, is more details for upper-middle class occupations than working and lower class occupations, and varies from one printed source to another. These variations hinder use of census data for research, particularly for studying race and sex discrimination in the United States. The differences in reporting by sex, race and class appear to represent biases against lower-status groups. Possible remedies are suggested to produce more comparable and sueful breakdowns of occupational categories. Article

2. “Comparisons Between White and Minority Neighborhood Activists.” Social Policy, Volume 11, Number 4, pages 35-6. (1981)

3. “Gender and the Construction of Consent in Child Sexual Abuse: Beyond The Male Monopoly and Gender Neutrality.” (Andrea Nelson and Pamela Oliver). Gender and Society 12 (October): 554-577. 1998Andrea Nelson and Pamela Oliver. Gender & Society; 1998, 12, 5, Oct, 554-577.Questionnaire data from 923 undergraduates in Madison, WI, 88 of whom reported sexual contact with adults before they were age 16, complemented by intensive follow-up interviews with 18 of the latter, reveal that gendered constructions of sexuality & dominance make the experience of abuse significantly different for boys & girls. Girls nearly always had contact with men & tended to experience it as harmful abuse. Boys were more likely to have contact with women than men; they generally interpreted contact with women as consensual, but their contact with men as abusive. Extensions of feminist gender analysis that have shaped inadequate gender-neutral law are required to explain these gender dynamics.