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Lothar Krempel 3 and Michael Schnegg 4
This paper examines how existing social networks are transformed into political action in times of rapid social change. This general theoretical problem is exemplified for the 1848/49 Revolution in Esslingen, a middle-sized German town. We use data from more than 200 historical sources to identify patterns of activity and social linkages for more than 2000 inhabitants of Esslingen at the time of the revolution and during the 15 years preceding it.
Results indicate that existing social structure plays a key role for mobilization processes. Further, they show that the picture needs to be differentiated. Structure does not have the same effect at each stage of the process and for every person involved. Mobilization does not only take place through the existing structure but also occurs in more distinct regions of the network where a common situation and an equivalent position in society at large are the driving forces behind the organization of protest.