Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Political mobilization is the process of organizing groups, social networks, crowds, and social units for political goals. Challengers to the status quo mobilize to redress grievances and for reforms when conventional political institutions fail to respond. Regimes mobilize to realize a political program, subdue adversaries, and counter mobilization by challengers when they need popular support. Resources for mobilization are manpower and funds (often from volunteers), commitment and solidarity of supporters, and shared beliefs and values. By mobilizing, a group gains power against an adversary. Political goals tend to be collective goods whose attainment in large groups entails organization costs and free-rider tendencies, as Mancur Olson (1965) theorized for interest groups and voluntary associations. When political mobilization is countered by the authorities with repression, obstacles are even higher. Nevertheless, in a 1990 empirical study of political mobilization by 53 challenging groups in the 19th- and 20th-century United States, William Gamson found ...