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Critique for the Potentials, Network, Motivations, and Barriers: Steps Towards Participation in Social Movements

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Critique for the Potentials, Network, Motivations, and Barriers: Steps towards participation in social movements. The four factors to form social movement are mobilization potentials, forming and activating recruiting networks, raising the motivation to participate and overcome the barriers of participation. Becoming a participant also required four different steps: becoming part of the mobilization potential, becoming target of the mobilization attempts, becoming motivated to participated and overcome the barriers to participate.

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To define the mobilization potential, the term referred to the people who take a positive attitude to the social movement. Attitudes consist of means and goals toward the movement. With the respect toward means, the term is related to the willingness to become engaged in conventional forms of political behavior, the protest potential in abbreviation. With the respect toward the goals, the concept is related to manifest political potential which means a group of people with a common identity and sharing the common goals. People who are not involved in the mobilization potential won’t consider participating in the movement activities.

To explain the recruitment network and the mobilization attempts. Despite the mobilizing consensus and the mobilization potential, if these factors can’t be linked to the recruitment network, the mobilization won’t be realized. The networks identifies whether the people became the target of mobilization attempts. People can be target by the mobilization attempts by media, mail, relationships with organizations and friends. Different routes get a different influence on people. The significance of friendships reaching potential participants has been emphasized in many researches.

The third factor is the motivation to participate. The motivation is defined as the function of the perceived costs and the benefits of participation. Two different kinds of incentives are identified as the collective incentives and the selective incentives. With the respect to the collective incentives, a multiplicative relationship is assumed between the value of the collective goods and the expectancy of the success. With the respect of the collective incentives, the soft or social incentives are important in determining the willingness to participate while the effect of the hard or nonsocial incentives is ambiguous.

Such incentives appeared different effects in different environment. Since the movements must communicate to the potential participants to which extent the incentives are controlled by the movement, the mobilization of consensus is also a key part of this stage. The fourth factor is the barriers to participation. Motivation and barriers interact to active participation. The more people are motivated, the higher barrier they can overcome. Maintaining or increasing motivation or removing barriers are the two strategies for the movement.

The paper gave the data on all the four steps of the mobilization campaign for the peace demonstration in The Hague in 1983 which is the largest demonstration the Netherlands had ever experienced. The authors conducted surveys before and after the demonstration in sake to analyze the participation behavior. In the survey, the mobilization potential, mobilization target, motivations, participation, attitudes, incentives, participation barriers, leftism of party vote and demographics of the participant have been measured. In each of the process toward the final demonstration considerable amount of people drop out.

Not being the target of the mobilization attempts, unable to overcome the barriers, could not arouse the motivation to participate lead to the drop out situation. The author analyzes those factors carefully in the paper to explain the result. The first step is the mobilization potential. Authors compared the age, gender, education, vote behavior, and attitudinal factors to analyze the people whether belong to the mobilization or not. With the respect to the demographics, olds and people who votes for the right party tend not belong to the mobilization potential.

People from the mobilization potential were more concern about and fight against about the missile deployment and sign a petition to against the deployment. The two groups show no difference on the possibility to control the arms race no matter in which way this would be achieved. The political preference is also a factor influence the motivation potential. People who stay outside the mobilization potential of movement against the missile were mostly from the right wing. The entire left wing of the Dutch society was the part of the motivation potential.

The author also found that the people who did not belong to the motivation potential got higher education level which is contradict to previous study. In conclusion, the mobilization potential of the movement covered a wide range of social categories rather than restricted to categories thought to be typical of the mobilization potentials of new social movements like new middle class, well-educated professionals and youth. The second step is to become the target of the mobilization attempts. Whether a person has formal or informal links with local peace movement is used to test whether person have been the target of mobilization attempt.

Most of the mobilization potentials were reached by mobilization attempts by formal networks like visit peace stand, reading newspapers or reached by organizations. Individual with several or even many acquaintances who tend to go to the demonstration are defined as have an informal recruitment network to the movement. Only 30% of the respondent got several informal links. The ratio of the mobilization potential has no link, formal link or informal link with the peace movement networks are quite the same at around 20%. 40% of the people got both kinds of link to the movement.

This indicates that people who belonged to the mobilization potential had been as frequently targets of mobilization attempts as people outside the mobilization potential. People outside the potential have more formal links than the people within the potential. But with fewer informal links doesn’t prevent the government organization to approach these people. Gender factors have no independent effect on the links to government networks. Highly educated people appeared to create new mobilization potentials because they connected to the social network engaged in recruitment more.

Informal networks are far more important than the formal ones in arousal of the motivation to participate. The third step is the motivation to participate. The motivation depends on the specific blend of costs and benefits perceived. With the respect of the collective incentives, in this demonstration, none of the respondent was optimistic about the outcome. In this protection, the potential participants estimated the number of participants more than the nonparticipant did, this is contradict to the finding that people tend to participate more if they expect others will do so as well.

But in certain conditions, people tend to participate less when they believe other people will. With the respect of the selective cost and benefit, knowing more people will increase the tendency one goes to the demonstration. The nonsocial cost of the demonstration is low. In the regression analysis, the result shows that the collective incentives were more important than the selective incentives in determining the motivation to participate. Due to the small sample size, the stage of overcome the barriers to participate cannot be explain.

Previous papers have explained the nonparticipation in many points of views. Free rider problem has been used to explain the nonparticipation phenomena. In some past research, free rider theory has been used to explain the non-participation. In this research, the author explains the non-participation by the four steps towards the participation. This paper also reveals that the attitudes toward to goal were important determinant of willingness to participate.

The network and ideological incentives are another important factor affect peoples’ participation decision. In this paper, the author gives four stages to explain why people would like to participate in social movement or not. The issue the author does not mention a lot is the institutional factors. How the institution can courage people to participate the movement and how they can control the movement can be studied. The problem in the paper is the sample size may be a little too small. This may cause some statistical problem during the research.