The idea that organizations act as carriers of social movements is now commonplace in political sociology. It wasn't always thus. Twenty years ago, when Mayer Zald and Roberta Ash (now Garner) wrote "Social Movement Organizations," the idea did not fit well with the dominant way of framing social movements. Obviously, those who studied social movements were aware of the numerous organizations that dotted their ebb and flow. But these organizations were seen more as excrescence than as the essence of the movement. Charisma gets routinized, the iron march of oligarchs follows the freewheeling and spontaneous expression of the masses, bureaucracy marches on. But it was the contrast between the solidity of bureaucratic organization and the fluidity of social movements that most observers saw then. Zald and his various collaborators, particularly John McCarthy, have helped us to see it differently. Rather than seeing organization and movement as contrasting phenomena, they taught us to see them as embedded. And, in the twenty years since "Social Movement Organizations," they have demonstrated the fecundity of their alternative.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Social Sciences