This article provides theoretical refinement and empirical specification for the breakdown variant of strain theory. It reconceptualizes the relationship between social breakdown and movement emergence in a fashion that is consistent with strands of cultural theory, phenomenology, and symbolic interactionism, and that resonates with prospect theory and research on collective action in a diversity of settings. It argues that the key to the breakdown-movement relationship resides in the actual or threatened disruption of the "quotidian"—that is, the taken-for-granted routines and attitudes of everyday life. Four conditions are especially likely to disrupt the quotidian and heighten prospects of collective action: accidents that throw a community's routines into doubt and/or threaten its existence; actual or threatened intrusion into and/or violation of citizens' sense of privacy, safety, and control; alteration in subsistence routines because unfavorable ratios of resources to claimants or demand; and dramatic changes in structures of social control. The relationship between these conditions and movement emergence is elaborated by drawing on literature on the emergence of collective action in various contexts and on our field work on homeless mobilization in eight cities. We close by exploring the implications of our analysis for understanding more fully the generality of various conditions and processes commonly thought to apply to social movement emergence.

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