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Understanding learning in social movements: a theory of collective learning

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This article introduces a theory of collective learning, which I argue is more appropriate than individualized theories for the study of individuals and groups engaged in collective action to defend or promote a shared social vision. This theory is unique among the relatively few theories of group learning, because it more specifically describes the relationship between individual and group development and because it significantlyaddresses social justice. In particular, I use Wells' extension of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development to describe the interplay among individuals in a group and I use Melucci's new social movement theory to conceptualize the interplay among groups in conflict. Development and learning occur throughout this framework, and can be observed using certain individual and group analytical distinctions. Individual distinctions include identity, consciousness, sense of agency, sense of worthiness and sense of connectedness. Group distinctions include collective identity, group consciousness, solidarity and organization.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 1999

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