A Durkheimian Theory of Social Movements

Sandro Segre


This article provides a theory of social movements that draws on Durkheim and network theory. The article maintains that a social movement’s success depends on promoting a social (rather than an individual) form of consciousness. Its existence depends on whether there are multiplex links between the leaders and the followers (Durkheim’s moral density); and whether its ideological frame resonates with those of other movements, and is not perceived as incompatible with values generally held by society. If this is the case, the movement's frame may become known to the members of other social movements, and may be viewed by them as a legitimate and taken-for-granted alternative in the ideological landscape. Three examples are provided to illustrate this theory..They concern the civil rights movement, occupy Wall Street and the Social Democratic Movement in Imperial Germany. In all these cases, the ability to achieve the social movements’ ends has been predicated on their leaders’ ability to establish social and ideological relations not only between followers, but also with other social movements and the external social environment.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v4i10.1857


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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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