What Do We Want? Examining the Motivating Role of Goals in Social Movement Mobilization

Maarten Johannes van Bezouw, Maja Kutlaca


The main purpose of any social movement organization is to achieve the goals of its followers. Little is known, however, about what type of goals disadvantaged group members strive to reach and which of those may motivate them to join a social movement organization. Using a door-to-door survey (N = 351), we investigated the mobilizing effects of goals among inhabitants of the North of the Netherlands that are adversely affected by gas-extraction induced earthquakes. We distinguished between collective (e.g., reduce gas extraction) versus individual goals (e.g., financial compensation), and outcome versus means goals (e.g., influence policy-makers). Moreover, we examined how perceptions of shared opinions with other affected citizens versus with people who are not negatively affected by gas extraction motivate the inhabitants to join a movement and attach importance to different goals. Our results indicate the existence of two pathways for potential mobilization: the first one through the perceptions of shared grievances, which can motivate people to join the movement and pursue collective solutions; and a second one through the perceptions of deprivation, which can motivate people to exert influence on power holders by joining a movement. Individual outcome goals were important but did not motivate disadvantaged citizens to join a social movement organization. We discuss the role of goals as a link between individual level and meso level factors for movement mobilization and collective action.


goals; social movements; risk perception; disaster; social comparison

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ISSN: 2195-3325
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