chapter  3
Spurs and Limits to Action
ByCharles C. Euchner
Pages 42

The environmental justice movement demonstrates that nothing spurs political action like immediate threats to people's material, cultural, or social survival. This chapter discusses the motivations for political action shows—no one orientation drives people to participate in protest politics. Psychology, morality, materialism, collective identity, status, and even style are all important variables in the equation of extraordinary politics. Crisis is a powerful motivator because it clears away hesitation and uncertainty, consolidates a variety of motivations for political action, clarifies understanding of common interests, and crystallizes possible strategies for action. If the political system is unable or unwilling to address material concerns, political action often takes unconventional forms, such as demonstrations, riots, hunger strikes, and wildcat work stoppages. The theory of "relative deprivation" provides important clues about the ways material interests develop and shape political movements. A more recent example is the mobilization of born-again Christians into the political system in the 1970s and 1980s.