A great strategy to grow an academic sub-field, like social movement research, is to connect the scholars who have made the largest contributions to the field over the past several decades to the bright young scholars who are likely to make the largest contributions for the next several decades. And then do this on a regular basis. I had an opportunity to witness this in action at the annual McCarthy Award celebration, which is held in conjunction with the Young Scholars in Social Movements Conference. Both were hosted by Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Social Movements a few weeks ago.
Pam Oliver was the recipient of the 2012 McCarthy Award, which recognizes lifetime achievement in the scholarship of social movements and collective behavior. Her talk on the centrality of race to social movement theorizing was fascinating and challenging. Although her current contributions to the field are staggering, as I listened I couldn’t help wonder if some of her most important contributions are still to come. Several other senior scholars in the field – John McCarthy, David Snow, Myra Marx Ferree, Hank Johnston, Daniel Myers, and David Meyer – were on hand for the celebration to “toast and roast” Pam, offering reflections on Pam’s work and her influence on the field. It was not only a tribute to the Pam’s body of work but also to the collegiality among the senior scholars in our field. Continue reading