Contemporary articles citing Gamson W (1975) Strategy Social Prot

political, dynamics, action, existing, broader, movement, states, fields, key, recent

Hart-Brinson, Peter. 2012. "Civic Recreation and a Theory of Civic Production." Sociological Theory. 30:2 130-147. Link
The debate on civic decline inspired by Putnam's ``bowling alone'' thesis exposed an important limitation in three dominant conceptions of the civic. Whether conceptualized as a locus, type, or motivation for action, the boundaries distinguishing the civic from other categories of political action are permeable and indistinct. This article develops a theory of civic production to better account for the inherent normativity and ``porousness'' of this analytic category. I conceptualize the civic as a variable, contingent outcome or product of a contentious performance undertaken in some venue for some reason. The phenomenon of ``civic recreation,'' a form of fund-raising that combines a leisure activity with a public cause, underscores the necessity of a theory of civic production. I draw from social movement theory and from ethnographic data from one fitness fund-raiser to illustrate some of the key processes and outcomes for which a theory of civic production must account.

Goldstone, Jack & Bert Useem. 2012. "Putting Values and Institutions Back Into the Theory of Strategic Action Fields." Sociological Theory. 30:1 37-47. Link
Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam have presented a new theory of how collective action creates the structure and dynamics of societies. At issue is the behavior of social movements, organizations, states, political parties, and interest groups. They argue that all of these phenomena are produced by social actors (which may be individuals or groups) involved in strategic action. This allows Fligstein and McAdam to advance a unified theory of ``strategic action fields.'' This article takes issue with aspects of Fligstein and McAdam's important contribution. We argue that that all organizations are not essentially the same; in addition to the location and interactions of their strategic actors, their dynamics are shaped and distinguished by differing values and norms, by the autonomy of institutions embedded in strategic action fields, and by the fractal relationships that nested fields have to broader principles of justice and social organization that span societies. We also criticize the view that social change can be conceptualized solely in terms of shifting configurations of actors in strategic action fields. Rather, any theory of social action must distinguish between periods of routine contention under the current institutions and norms and exceptional challenges to the social order that aim to transform those institutions and norms.

Jansen, Robert. 2011. "Populist Mobilization: a New Theoretical Approach to Populism." Sociological Theory. 29:2 75-96. Link
Sociology has long shied away from the problem of populism. This may be due to suspicion about the concept or uncertainty about how to fit populist cases into broader comparative matrices. Such caution is warranted: the existing interdisciplinary literature has been plagued by conceptual confusion and disagreement. But given the recent resurgence of populist politics in Latin America and elsewhere, sociology can no longer afford to sidestep such analytical challenges. This article moves toward a political sociology of populism by identifying past theoretical deficiencies and proposing a new, practice-based approach that is not beholden to pejorative common sense understandings. This approach conceptualizes populism as a mode of political practice-as populist mobilization. Its utility is demonstrated through an application to mid-twentieth-century Latin American politics. The article concludes by sketching an agenda for future research on populist mobilization in Latin America and beyond.

Fligstein, Neil & Doug McAdam. 2011. "Toward a General Theory of Strategic Action Fields." Sociological Theory. 29:1 1-26. Link
In recent years there has been an outpouring of work at the intersection of social movement studies and organizational theory. While we are generally in sympathy with this work, we think it implies a far more radical rethinking of structure and agency in modern society than has been realized to date. In this article, we offer a brief sketch of a general theory of strategic action fields (SAFs). We begin with a discussion of the main elements of the theory, describe the broader environment in which any SAF is embedded, consider the dynamics of stability and change in SAFs, and end with a respectful critique of other contemporary perspectives on social structure and agency.

Li, JL. 2002. "State Fragmentation: Toward a Theoretical Understanding of the Territorial Power of the State." Sociological Theory. 20:2 139-156. Link
In existing theories of revolution, the state is narrowly defined as an administrative entity, and state breakdown simply refers to the disintegration of a given political regime. But this narrow definition cannot deal with this question: Why, in a revolutionary situation, do some states become fragmented and others remain unified? I would therefore argue for the broadening of the concept of state breakdown to include the territorial power of the state and to treat the latter as a key analytical dimension in the study of state fragmentation. The dynamics of territorial state power involve the control of critical territories and valuable resources associated with the spatial position of a given state in the interstate system. A strong territorial state is able to maintain its organizational coerciveness and territorial integrity, whereas a weak territorial state is vulnerable to fragmentation. The overall state crisis derives from the accumulated effects of geopolitical strain by which territorial fragmentation unfolds.

Fligstein, N. 2001. "Social Skill and the Theory of Fields." Sociological Theory. 19:2 105-125. Link
The problem of the relationship between actors and the social structures in which they are embedded is central to sociological theory. This paper suggests that the ``new institutionalist ``focus on fields, domains, or games provides an alternative view of how to think about this problem by focusing on the construction of loca( orders. This paper criticizes the conception of actors in both rational choice and sociological versions of these theories. A more sociological view of action, what is called ``social skill,'' is developed. The idea of social skill originates in symbolic interactionism and is defined as the ability to induct cooperation in others. This idea is elaborated to suggest how actors are important to the construction and reproduction of local orders. I show how, its elements already inform existing work. Finally I show how the idea can sensitize scholars to the role of actors in empirical work.

Wood, RL. 1999. "Religious Culture and Political Action." Sociological Theory. 17:3 307-332. Link
Recent work by political sociologists and social movement theorists extend our understanding of how religious institutions contribute to expanding democracy, but nearly all analyze religious institutions as institutions; few focus directly on what religion qua religion might contribute. This article strives to illuminate the impact of religious culture per se, extending recent work on religion and democratic life by a small group of social movement scholars trained also in the sociology of religion. In examining religion's democratic impact, an explicitly cultural analysis inspired by the new approach to political culture developed by historical sociologists and cultural analysts of democracy is used to show the power of this approach and to provide a fuller theoretical account of how cultural dynamics shape political outcomes. The article examines religious institutions as generators of religious culture, presents a theoretical model of how religious cultural elements are incorporated into social movements and so shape their internal political cultures, and discusses how this in turn shapes their impact in the public realm. This model is then applied to a key site of democratic struggle: four efforts to promote social justice among low-income urban residents of the United States, including the most widespread such effort-faith-based community organizing.