Until recently, those who study protest movements have paid little attention to the role that spontaneous action plays in those movements. “Spontaneity is almost a bad word in social movement literature, as if it undermines the organizational aspect of a protest,” says Dana M. Moss, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Irvine. But Moss and her colleague David A. Snow, a professor of sociology at UC Irvine, argue that spontaneity is often a vital element of the colle…

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