Social Movements, Revolutions & Social Change
In democratic societies, social movements are one of the principal social forms through which collectivities give voice to concerns about the rights, welfare, and well-being of themselves and others by engaging in different forms of collective action and public protest. Some scholars have referred to the United States as “a social movement society” because the collective actions associated with social movements play such an important role in bringing about social change in political, religious, educational, health, corporate, government, and other institutional arenas. However, social movements which have always been a social form for challenging or defending prevailing systems of authority are becoming even more ubiquitous not only in the United States but also worldwide. As social protest has become more prevalent, there has been a corresponding proliferation of scholarly research on social movement related activity, especially in the U.S. and Europe.
For 30 years, the Sociology Department at UCSB has been at the forefront of research and graduate training in social movements and collective action. Richard Flacks’ foundational work on student, New Left, and labor movements established the department as a magnet for scholars and students interested in social movements and political protest. Despite differences in substantive research foci, the faculty in this area concentrate on one or more of the following sub-areas within social movements: the study of protest events and collective action forms, the role of oppositional consciousness and collective identity in collective action, the development of political generations, the study of social movement organizations, how social movements are affected by and shape the larger culture, and how the network nature of social movements relates to the characteristics and diffusion of collective action. To study these topics, the faculty at UCSB is nationally recognized as unique in the use of a variety of the most significant qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches and techniques employed in the field.
For 30 years, the Sociology Department at UCSB has been at the forefront of research and graduate training in social movements and collective action. Richard Flacks’ foundational work on student, New Left, and labor movements established the department as a magnet for scholars and students interested in social movements and political protest.