Value-Added Theory

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The value-added theory 'r sociologist Neil Smelser (1963) is based on the  that  certain conditions arc necessary for (. ( d -vclopmcnt of a social

social  movement. Smelser called his theory the "valueadded"approach based ron the concept (borrowed from the field of economics) tint each step in the production
process adds something to the finished product.For example. in the process of converting iron ore into automobiles. each stage "adds value" to the final product (Smelser, 19(3). Similarly, Smelser asserted. six conditions are necessary and sufficient 10 produce social movements when they combine or interact in a  particular situation.

1. Structural conduciveness. People must become aware of a significant problem and have the opportunity to engage in collective action. According to Smelser. movements arc more likely to occur when a person, class, or agency can be singled out as the source of the problem; when channels for expressing grievances either are not available or fail; and w hen the aggrieved have a chance to communicate among themselves.

2. Structural strain. When a society or community is unable to meet people's expectations that something should be done about a problem. strain occurs in the system. The ensuing tension and conflict contribute to the development of a social movement based on people's belief that the problem would not exist if authorities had done what they were supposed to do.

3. Spread of a generalized belief For a movement to develop, there must be a clear statement of the  problem and a shared view of its cause. effects, and possible solution.

4. Precipitating factors. 10 reinforce the existing generalized  belief 311 inciting incident or dramatievent must With regard to technological  disasters, sor-» (including Love Canal) gradually emerge from a long-standing environmental threat, whereas others (including the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant) involve a suddenly imposed problem.

5. At this stage, leaders emerge to organize others and give them a sense of direction.

6. Social control factors. If there is a high level of social Contortion the part of law enforcement officials. political leaders, and others. it becomes more difficult to develop a social movement or engage in certain types of collective action. Value-added theory takes into account the complexity of social movements and makes it possible to test Smelter's assertions regarding the! necessary and sufficient conditions that produce such movements. However, critics note that the approach is rooted in  the functionalist tradition and views structural strainsas disruptive to society. Smelser's theory has been described as a mere variant of convergence theory. which. you will recall. is based on the assumption that people with similar predispositions will be activated by a common event or object (Quarantelli and Hundley. 1993