Social Movements in Advanced Capitalism: The Political Economy and Cultural Construction of Social Activism

By Steven M. Buechler | Go to book overview

5
Regional Structures and Social Movements Class, Race, and Gender

Global and national structures intertwine to create the distinctive social and historical contexts in which collective action occurs. For some movements, it is these structures that are most critical in shaping the particular opportunities and constraints that govern movement emergence, mobilization, and success. For many other movements, it is a third level of structure conditioning relations across lines of class, race, and gender that is most salient in producing collective action. This is obvious in working-class mobilization, movements for racial justice, and feminist movements. But these structures are omnipresent in the background of all forms of collective action. Two examples must suffice to suggest a more general point. On the individual level, the class, race, and gender characteristics of individuals are always reflected in patterns of differential recruitment and mobilization; there are no movements whose membership is not shaped by these realities. On the organizational level, movements that challenge some forms of inequality inevitably sustain and recreate other forms of inequality within their ranks, including class, race, or gender relations. The centrality of these dynamics to collective action requires analysis of a third level of sociohistorical structure that is intertwined with global and national structures.


THE REGIONAL LEVEL OF SOCIOHISTORICAL STRUCTURE

The term "regional" is not a spatial reference but rather an analytical one; it is a term of convenience for a level of analysis between global and national struc-

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