The civil rights movement and the logic of social change


The civil rights movement and the logic of social change

Joseph E. Luders

(Cambridge studies in contentious politics)

Cambridge University Press, 2010

  • : pbk
  • : hardback

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Includes bibliographical references (p. 215-233) and index



Social movements have wrought dramatic changes upon American society. This raises the question: Why do some movements succeed in their endeavors while others fail? Luders answers this question by introducing an analytical framework that begins with a shift in emphasis away from the characteristics of movements toward the targets of protests and affected bystanders and why they respond as they do. This shift brings into focus how targets and other interests assess both their exposure to movement disruptions as well as the costs of conceding to movement demands. From this point, diverse outcomes stem not only from a movement's capabilities for protest but also from differences among targets and others in their vulnerability to disruption and the substance of movement goals. Applied to the civil rights movement, this approach recasts conventional accounts of the movement's outcome in local struggles and national politics and clarifies the broader logic of social change.


  • 1. The logic of social movement outcomes
  • 2. Civil rights and reactive countermobilization
  • 3. The calculus of compromise
  • 4. Local struggles
  • 5. Patterns of regional change
  • 6. Federal responses to civil rights mobilization
  • 7. Conclusion.

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