What is a Social Movement?
What is a Social Movement?
Social movements play a central role in the scope and direction of social change. They were instrumental in the creation of the modern state and, today, are major forces in politics and culture. Environmentalism, gay rights, alterglobalization, and Islamic fundamentalism are all movements with far-reaching impacts on contemporary society.

<i>What is a Social Movement?</i> traces how the study of movements such as these - of their structures, their ideas, and their repertoires of protest - have grown in recent years to become a major focus in the social sciences. It deftly navigates the organizational, ideational, and cultural complexity of political and social movements, and offers a succinct but comprehensive overview of the hows, whys, and wheretofores of studying them. The book analyzes how politics and culture frequently intersect as people participate in movements that call for change and pursue group interests. By focusing on movement organizations and networks, on what they do, and how they articulate their ideas of justice and collective interests, <i>What is a Social Movement?</i> lays the essential groundwork for understanding this significant and exciting field of research, where it came from, and where it is headed.
Show More
Buy Now

From Wiley.com

Order Exam Copy

For Lecturers Only

More Info
  • April 2014
  • 176 pages
  • 145 x 224 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $62.25
  • 9780745660844
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9780745660851
  • Open eBook $20.00
  • 9780745682341
Table of Contents

1 What is a Social Movement? 1

2 The Study of Social Movements 26

3 What is a Political Movement? 49

4 What is a Cultural Movement? 72

5 What Do Social Movements Do? 94

6 Researching Social Movements 118

7 Where are Social Movements Headed? 139

References 161

Index 180

About the Author
Hank Johnston is Associate Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University. He is the founding editor of Mobilization, a journal of research in social and political movements, ranked as a top-ten journal in sociology.
Show More


''The highly abstract concept of social movement, its main dimensions and the various forms it takes in the real world come alive in this excellent introduction to social movement studies. Hank Johnston presents a concise, easy to read, up-to-date and thorough overview over this particularly flourishing field of the social sciences.''
Hanspeter Kriesi, European University Institute

''The momentous events of 2011 in the Arab world have started a wave of global protest that is not likely to recede soon. Hank Johnstons timely new book provides us with the tools to make sense of recent developments, and connect them to earlier phases of contention. Mapping both theoretical and research approaches, drawing from an impressive array of contentious episodes across time and space, and profiting from Johnstons deep grasp of cultural processes and social movement performances, What is a Social Movement? will be essential reading for specialists and lay readers alike.''
Mario Diani, University of Trento and ICREA-UPF Barcelona

''Few scholars have gone as far as Hank Johnston in bridging various strands of the social movement literature. This book combines insights from structural, organizational, and cultural theories to give a fresh look at social movement analysis.''
Marco Giugni, University of Geneva

''This is a comprehensive, engaging, and beautifully written introduction to the study of social movements. It is one of the best undergraduate texts in the field, but it would also be an invaluable source for graduate students and scholars looking for a concise review of the major theoretical perspectives and debates in the field.''
Verta Taylor, University of California Santa Barbara

"Johnston provides a nuanced understanding of contemporary society through the study of social movements, looking at them in theory and practice from a broad perspective."
Political Studies Review

Show More