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Insurgency of the Powerless: Farm Worker Movements (1946-1972)

J. Craig Jenkins and Charles Perrow
American Sociological Review
Vol. 42, No. 2 (Apr., 1977), pp. 249-268
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094604
Page Count: 20
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Insurgency of the Powerless: Farm Worker Movements (1946-1972)
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Abstract

Drawing on the perspective developed in recent work by Oberschall (1973), Tilly (1975) and Gamson (1975), we analyze the political process centered around farm worker insurgencies. Comparing the experience of two challenges, we argue that the factors favored in the classical social movement literature fail to account for either the rise or outcome of insurgency. Instead, the important variables pertain to social resources-in our case, sponsorship by established organizations. Farm workers themselves are powerless; as an excluded group, their demands tend to be systematically ignored. But powerlessness may be overridden if the national political elite is neutralized and members of the polity contribute resources and attack insurgent targets. To test the argument, entries in the New York Times Annual Index are content coded and statistically analyzed, demonstrating how the political environment surrounding insurgent efforts alternatively contains them or makes them successful.

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