Competing Theories of Social Mobilization and Farmworkers: Applying the Political Process Model to Contemporary Farmworkers
Cieslar, Kirsten T.
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Why farmworkers in Michigan do not unite and fight against their disadvantaged position? The issue of migrant farmworkers is of special interest to me as a resident of Michigan, since Michigan has the forth-largest migrant farmworker population in the United States. In this research project, I seek to examine the history, mobilization, and the political marginalization that constitute the migrant experience in America and particularly in Michigan. Contemplation of differing theories of social movements, and the case of farmworkers in the 1960's lead by Cesar Chavez allow me to formulate an understanding of the lack of social mobilization in America, and especially Michigan, today. This includes an attempt to understand what prevents farmworkers from seeking to mobilize as the farmworkers of the 1960's did, a discussion why social movements occur, and what the necessary factors for success are. I use different models of social mobilization within this research project to foster understanding. These include the following theories; political process theory, resource mobilization theory, Marxism and power theories. In this research project I have chosen to rely on the political process model in order to understand the lack of social mobilization amongst farmworkers. Using these models and theories to contrast the social mobilization of farmworkers in the past and the present helps give an understanding of what creates a successful social movement. In this research project I will first examine a selection of different theories regarding social mobilization. A wide range of theories of social mobilization has been employed to understand the dynamics of farmworkers in the United States, both past and present. After examining different models, I will make the argument that the political process model represents the best lens for understanding the successful social mobilization in the best and the current lack of insurgency. Before thoroughly applying the model, I will address the current challenges and problems of farmworkers in the United States and specifically Michigan. These issues represent an important aspect of the farmworkers' experience and help to illustrate what makes the lack of social mobilization among farmworkers noteworthy. Additionally, the history of social mobilization among farmworkers is reviewed in the following section. When juxtaposed with the present, the historical case offers clues to what allowed movements of insurgency to succeed in the past. The next section of this research project applies the political process model to social mobilization among farmworkers. The concluding section of the research project reviews and critiques the methods used throughout the research project, noting the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.
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