i. Resource Mobilization Theory despite it being the dominant


begin their research, Cress and Snow began with a fundamental research question,
“…what is the…importance of specified resources in relation to mobilization outcomes
and whether the poor should organize at all?” (Cress and Snow 1996:4) The
rationale for these questions and this study is to provide sufficient evidence through
empirical data that the authors feel is not explained or provided through the
Resource Mobilization Theory despite it being the dominant perspective. Three
oversights were identified that create four issues to be studied. These
oversights include: failure to clarify and empirically ground the resource
concept, the failure to examine the link between types of resources and various
mobilization processes or outcomes, the failure to clarify empirically
competing claims about the sources of resources, specifically whether sources
are external or internal. The four issues explored by Cress and Snow include:
Conceptualizing resources, resources and mobilization outcomes, resource
derivation, and external support and control. Cress and Snow approach these
issues with hopes to solve them by recognizing that the current sociological
understanding of these issues is little to none. They hypothesize how these
issues may be confronted through a variety of questions, such as: What varieties
of resource combinations are necessary for SMOs’ mobilization and viability? Are
the resources mobilized by homeless SMO’s derived externally or internally and
do the resources sources affect SMO viability? Does external support or
patronage lead to co-optation or control?

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Design and Sampling

this study, Cress and Snow focused on homeless SMOs in eight cities with local
character movements. Factors that affected selection include variance in level
of mobilization, content analysis of newspaper accounts of homeless collective
actions in 18 US cities that had a daily newspaper indexed throughout the
1980s, as well as time and access. The objectives of fieldwork in this study
include mapping of the organizational field where the SMOs are embedded in each
city to recognize patterns of interaction within these fields. Sampling
strategies included an ‘onion-snowball’ practice where Cress and Snow would
have one SMO that led to other referrals being found through that SMOs’
contacts. This allowed for mapping of relevant organizational fields, and
provided numerous validity checks on various sources of information, and gathered
information on homeless SMOs that no longer exist as well. “The 15 homeless
SMOs varied in size, ranging from organizations with a half-dozen active
homeless members to those with 30 or more active members.” (Cress and Snow
1996:6) Throughout this study, fieldwork styles resembled those of Snow and
Anderson, however additional data such as documents from homeless SMOs, facilitative
organizations, target organizations, and newspaper accounts of the SMOs were included.
This allowed for greater comprehension of SMOs and the ability to cross-check informants’
claims and to compare documents against one another.

Measuring Devices and their Precision

and Snow remain particularly interested in what resources and resource
combinations prove necessary and sufficient for SMO viability. Qualitative
comparative analysis (based on Boolean algebra) was used to identify the
numerous causes of an event when comparing a compact number of cases. It was
found that a minimum of nine resources are required for an SMO to be viable.
These nine resources can be placed into four categories: moral, material,
informational, and human. Not only did this equation identify that SMOs with
more resources would be more successful, but it also tested if certain
resources or resource combinations were more important to viability than
others. With the data gathered from fieldwork observations and the use of
categorization resources, Cress and Snow created categories that were, “…coded
to highlight the variation within each category. This process helped to
organize and make sense of the data and clarified the organizational dynamics
and resource relationships in each city.” (Cress and Snow 1996:7) By organizing
the data collected throughout their research, Cress and Snow gained an increase
validity of their research through empirically-based evidence further explained
in their findings.


basic resources were identified to make an SMO viable, however the most
important resources included informational resources, leadership, and having a
place to meet. Viability was found to be the positive effect of successful resource
mobilization, however once mobilization occurred, support was required for
continuing survival. Seventy-five percent of resources were found to be from
external sources. What distinguishes viable form nonviable SMOs is the range of
resource types provided by external supporters. “Viable SMOs mobilized an
average of 9.7 external resources, while nonviable SMOs mobilized an average of
only 4.5 external resources…” (Cress and Snow 1996:15) Another component that
proved important for viable SMOs was their relationships with facilitative
organizations that provided a bare minimum of fifty percent of the resource
types needed to mobilize those SMOs. Nonviable SMOs did not have these sorts of
relationships. Cress and Snow found no correlation between the establishment of
a benefactor relationship and a propensity of SMOs to engage in militant action.
It should be noted that typical benefactors of homeless SMOs were social
gospelite organizations, which are not elite, meaning that the motivations and
interests for SMOs may not be centered around control or co-optation as
originally thought. It was found that, “…organization-building was a necessary substitute
for the absence of every day connections for the mobilization of disruption to
occur… and to …sustain mobilization over time as a social movement…requires a
significant number of different types of resources.” (Cress and Snow 1996:20)
Overall, the only way to maintain a successful protest for the impoverished requires
prominent leadership and (generally) assistance from facilitative


the information gathered in their research, Cress and Snow exhibit their own interpretation
of their findings through a summarization of categories. In terms of the role
resources play more generally in the careers of SMOs, some SMOs require a
broader array of resources than others. Cress and Snow feel that the four
categories of resources: moral, material, human, and informational, are general
enough to be applied to other studies but refined empirically through grounded
analyses of resources that the specific SMOs they studied needed. These
findings reaffirmed the resource mobilization perspective, while also extending
it by recognizing the relationship between the number of resources mobilized
and SMO viability as well as the most important resources for a viable SMO:
informational resources, leadership, having a place to meet. This being said,
the salience of any resource or set of resources varies by: type of SMO,
class/socioeconomic status of constituents, and desired outcomes (which need
more empirical examination, determined to be too broad). Cress and Snow’s found
that the importance of external or internal support may vary across movements as
well as within a particular category of movements, such as poor people’s
movements. The need for careful research on different levels/types of patronage
is also emphasized as distinctions between elite patronage and benefactors were
identified. Lastly, this study found that homeless SMOs depend on external
support to organize protest, but those that established relationships with
benefactors were much more likely to remain viable and be involved in sustained
protest because it allowed them to focus on protest activity rather than on
resource mobilization.

Criticisms and Notes

a reader, I felt the research completed within this study was sufficient and
effective, however there are still questions to be answered in future studies.
The first being the question Cress and Snow concluded with, “Thus, regarding
movements of the poor, the real issue is not whether the poor should organize,
but in what ways and with whom?” (Cress and Snow 1996:20) Further research
would involve further fieldwork observation in the most effective ways that the
poor congregate today, and research into the most effective forms of
organization in the past. Research on facilitative organizations and supporters
would be necessary to increase the potential of any organization of the poor.