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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Gillian H. Murphy
SOC 347
Seattle Campus

National Social Movements: Current Trends and Explanations

Introduction to theory and research on a specific form of social movement: national-level collective mobilizations organized for political change. Emphasizes how political, organizational, and cultural factors shape social movement emergence and development. Focuses on American activism, New Left, women's movements, the abortion conflict, gay/lesbian activism, and Central American Peace movement.

Class description

Introduction to theory and research on national-level mobilizations organized for political change, with a focus on understanding contemporary efforts in the context of their historical development. We will explore ways organizational and cultural factors shape social movement emergence and development, while simultaneously acknowledging the agency of movement actors. We will focus on case studies of the American civil rights movement and the gay identity movement. Students will leave this course with an appreciation of both the obstacles social movements face and, perhaps more importantly, how they can be overcome by “thoughtful, committed citizens.”

Student learning goals

Evaluate and discuss conditions necessary for movement emergence

Evaluate and discuss how organizational factors influence movement development

Evaluate and discuss how cultural factors influence movement development

Evaluate and discuss the concept of collective identity

Evaluate and discuss movement tactics and strategies

Apply concepts and theory to understanding contemporary civil rights and sexual-identity social movement mobilizations

General method of instruction

Class time will be evenly divided between lecture and participatory exercises

Recommended preparation

Students should be prepared to complete course readings and small assignments in a timely manner. There is no time in summer quarter to pick up slack.

Class assignments and grading

Daily and weekly assignments will help students focus attention on and deepen understanding of the most important concepts.

The course is designed to reward consistent participation and effort.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Gillian H. Murphy
Date: 06/03/2008