Value-added theory

Value-added theory

Value-added theory (also known as social strain theory) was first proposed by Neil Smelser and is based on the assumption that certain conditions are needed for the development of a social movement. [Kenall 2005] Smelser saw social movements as side-effects of rapid social change [Porta&Diani 2006] .

Smelser argued that six things were necessary and sufficient for collective behavior to emerge [Kendall 2006] , and that social movement evolve through those relevant stages [Sztompka 2004] :

* Structural conduciveness - things that make or allow certain behaviors possible (e.g. spatial proximity). Especially people must be aware of the problem and have the opportunity to act.
* Structural strain - something (inequality, injustice) must strain society, and existing power holders are unable (or unwilling) to deal with the problem (see also relative deprivation).
* Generalized belief - explanation; participants have to come to an understanding of what the problem is. The problem should be clearly defined and this definition widely agreed by the participants.
* Precipitating factors - spark to ignite the flame, in other words a political opportunity.
* Mobilization for action - people need to become organized, see also resource mobilization
* Failure of social control - how the authorities react (or don't). High level of social control by the power holders (politicians, police) often makes it more difficult for social movement to act.

Smelser borrowed the concept of value added from economics, where it refers to the increasing value of product in progressing stages of production.

Critics of this theory note that it is based on functionalism and views all strains on society as disruptive [Kendall 2006] , [Porta&Diani 2006] .

ee also

*value theory


*Piotr Sztompka in "Shaping sociological imagination: The importance of theory", Jeffrey C. Alexander, Gary T. Marx, Christine L. Williams (ed.), "Self, Social Structure, and Beliefs", University of California Press, 2004, ISBN 0-520-24136-3, [ Google Print, p.254]
*Diana Kendall, "Sociology In Our Times", Thomson Wadsworth, 2005, ISBN 0-534-64629-8 [ Google Print, p.530]
*Donatella della Porta, Mario Diani, "Social Movements: An Introduction", Blackwell Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-4051-0282-9, [ Google Print, p.7]

Further reading

* Neil J. Smelser, "Theory of collective behavior", various, 1962

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