Elements of a Successful Social Movement

What does it take to build a successful social movement?

With a tip of the intellectual hat to Goffman, Zald, McCarthy, Meyer, Gamson, Snow, McAdam, Benford, Klandermans, Johnston, Ewick, Silbey, Polletta, and a marching band of other academics, these are the basic building blocks of a successful social movement:

*** A discontented group of politicized persons who share the perception that they have common grievances they want society to address

*** A powerful and lucid ideological vision linked to strategies and tactics that have some reasonable chance of success

*** The recruitment of people into the movement through preexisting social, political, and cultural networks

*** A core group of trusted strategic leaders and local activists who effectively mobilize, organize, educate, and communicate with the politicized mass base

*** The efficient mobilization of resources that are available, or can be developed, to assist the movement to meet its goals

*** An institutional infrastructure integrating political coordination, research and policy think tanks, training centers, conferences, and alternative media

*** Political opportunities in the larger social and political scene that can be exploited by movement leaders and activists

*** The skillful framing of ideas and slogans for multiple audiences such as leaders, members, potential recruits, policymakers, and the general public

*** An attractive movement culture that creates a sense of community through mass rituals, celebrations, music, drama, poetry, art, and narrative stories about past victories, current struggles, and future successes

*** The ability of recruits to craft a coherent and functional identity as a movement participant