Abstract and Keywords
The chapter introduces the Oxford Handbook of Social Movements through an exploration of the field of social movement studies. While scientific boundaries are inevitably—and luckily—porous, still they may define professional identities, encourage attention to specific issues to the detriment of others, nurture specific theoretical or methodological approaches, and hamper the growth of others. Therefore, looking for the factors that render social movement research distinctive provides an opportunity to map not only the range of empirical phenomena and the kind of intellectual questions that have shaped the field, but also some of its current limitations. The Handbook maps some of the different lines of investigation that have developed in recent years. Without denying the specificity of social movement research, it also highlights its burgeoning conversations with cognate intellectual fields and traditions, and the attempts to overcome conventional disciplinary boundaries out of dissatisfaction with dominant paradigms.
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