Social Movements: Organizations and Organizing

  • Frank G. A. de BakkerEmail author
  • Frank den Hond
  • Mikko Laamanen
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


We discuss two lines of research that emerged at the crossroads of social movement studies and organization theory, focusing on organizations and organizing, respectively. We speak of ‘organizations’ and ‘organizing’ to emphasize that the ‘social movement/organizations’ nexus is distinct from the ‘social movement/organizing’ nexus. In exploring this distinction, we first discuss recent developments and limitations in the study of social movements and (business) organizations. We examine how movements challenge economic authorities and how economic hegemonies counteract such challenges. Then we highlight the nexus of social movements and organizing. To zoom in on the process of organizing, we revisit Michels’ ‘iron law of oligarchy’ and argue that oligarchization is a normative concept; it refers to the abuse of legitimate power by a minority in a movement. This may also take place outside social movement organizations. Therefore, we suggest that it is helpful to focus on organizing as a process, instead of organization as an entity. This leads us to discuss ‘partial organizing’—a relatively new approach in organization theory—to address the rephrased question of how movements organize and to what consequences. This chapter thus offers alternative takes on social movement organizations and movement organizing, and thereby seeks to bring closer together the studies of movements and of organizing.


Channeling Contention Collaboration Iron law Oligarchy Partial organization Prefiguration Social movement organization 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank G. A. de Bakker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frank den Hond
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mikko Laamanen
    • 4
  1. 1.IÉSEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS 9221)LilleFrance
  2. 2.Hanken School of EconomicsHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Grenoble École de ManagementGrenobleFrance

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