Class and Movement-Building

At this political moment, we hear urgent calls to organize cross-class, multiracial progressive movements to press for fundamental change. Since activism looks different among people of different classes, the challenges of organizing progressive movements vary by class.

College-educated professional-middle-class (PMC) and wealthy activists are more likely to make an individual commitment to an issue and then seek out a group with a compatible ideology and mission. Today millions of them want to be part of a resistance movement, but to the extent that some PMC-led organizations have an individualistic and ideological inner culture, they may repel some working-class potential recruits. How can PMC activists’ solidarity muscles and cross-class alliance-building skills be strengthened? Conversely, working-class and poor activists tend to get involved through preexisting affiliations, whether with a workplace, a religious congregation, a neighborhood, or through invitations from family members or friends. It’s a challenge to expand locally rooted working-class efforts beyond a trusted circle to wield more power in a wider sphere. How can the scope of working-class activism be widened? Also, working-class and poor people may be biographically unavailable due to being low-wage, undocumented, single parents, etc., yet many working-class, poor, and multiply marginalized people have been powerful activists. What processes of empowerment have enabled them to take on public leadership, and how can those be replicated in other communities?

Special thanks to Guest Editor Betsy Leondar-Wright, who organized this exciting dialogue.

Thanks also to our wonderful contributors.

Juhi TyagiMax Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies (essay)
Andrea Voyer, University of Connecticut (essay)
Daniel Laurison, Swarthmore College (essay)

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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Class and Movement-Building: How does Class Shape Participation in Movements?

At this political moment, we hear urgent calls to organize cross-class, multiracial progressive movements to press for fundamental change. Since activism looks different among people of different classes, the challenges of organizing progressive movements vary by class.

 College-educated professional-middle-class (PMC) and wealthy activists are more likely to make an individual commitment to an issue and then seek out a group with a compatible ideology and mission. Today millions of them want to be part of a resistance movement, but to the extent that some PMC-led organizations have an individualistic and ideological inner culture, they may repel some working-class potential recruits. How can PMC activists’ solidarity muscles and cross-class alliance-building skills be strengthened? Conversely, working-class and poor activists tend to get involved through preexisting affiliations, whether with a workplace, a religious congregation, a neighborhood, or through invitations from family members or friends. It’s a challenge to expand locally rooted working-class efforts beyond a trusted circle to wield more power in a wider sphere. How can the scope of working-class activism be widened? Also, working-class and poor people may be biographically unavailable due to being low-wage, undocumented, single parents, etc., yet many working-class, poor, and multiply marginalized people have been powerful activists. What processes of empowerment have enabled them to take on public leadership, and how can those be replicated in other communities?

Special thanks to Guest Editor Betsy Leondar-Wright, who curated this exciting dialogue.

Thanks also to our wonderful group of contributors.

Frederic Rose, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (essay)
Hahrie Han, University of California, Santa Barbara (essay)
Linda Stout, Spirit in Action (essay)

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

 

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Is There a New Women’s Movement?

The day following the Inauguration of Donald Trump, an estimated 500,000 activists descended upon Washington D.C. to protest in opposition to the values of his administration. Similar marches were held in cities worldwide. There was controversy leading up to the event.  Women of color challenged the organization committee for lacking diversity and called for more intersectionality. Some white women resented the challenge and chose to stay home or threatened to do so.  The Women’s March was fraught with a long-standing issue within American feminist movement, how to unify across differences. The concerns of the activists were broad including: immigration reform, Black Lives Matter, anti-Muslim discrimination, reproductive rights, and climate change. What do we make of this historic event? Does this moment mark the beginning of a new women’s movement? If so, what are the issues of the new movement? Who is included? Excluded? What do we make of all those who participated? Is this movement intersectional? If so, how are the activists putting an intersectional women’s agenda into practice?

Special thanks to Guest Editor Daisy Reyes, who curated this exciting dialogue.

Thanks also to our wonderful group of contributors.

Michael T. Heaney, University of Michigan (essay)
Nancy Whittier, Smith College (essay)
Jo Reger, Oakland University (essay)

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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2018 McCarthy Award Winner!

The Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame is very pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship of Social Movements and Collective Behavior is Aldon Morris of Northwestern University. The award not only recognizes Aldon’s extraordinary achievements in research, but also the role that he has played in mentoring successive generations of scholars. Continue reading

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The Alt-Right

Donald Trump’s recent rise to power has put a spotlight on what has come to be known as the “alt-right.”  Yet the alt-right proceeded the Trump campaign and has, perhaps, contributed to Trump’s victory and also benefited from its close ties with the White House.  This dialogue invites social scientists to comment on its causes, consequences, and its likely trajectory.  What can social movement scholars learn from this movement?  What has contributed to its successes?  What limitations to future growth does it face (if any)?  What type of people are most likely to be attracted to the alt-right, and why?  How can this movement be resisted?  How severe is the threat posed by the movement?  How should progressives respond to the way in which the alt-right prompts debate and contention over the line between hate speech and free speech?

Many thanks to our wonderful group of contributors.

Hajar Yazdiha, University of Southern California-Dornsife (essay)
Robert Futrell & Pete Simi, University of Nevada-Las Vegas & Chapman University (essay)
Nella Van Dyke, University of California-Merced (essay)
Ziad Munson, Lehigh University (video)

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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Informing Activists: What should I know about reaching a diverse group of people online?

Thomas Elliott

What should I know about reaching a diverse group of people online?

Recommended Readings:

Classic:

Cohen, Cathy J., and Joseph Kahne. 2012. Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action, Youth & Participatory Politics. Chicago, ILMacArthur Foundation

Review (note: this is a review of digital divide work more broadly. It is not specifically focused on activism)

DiMaggio, Paul, Eszter Hargittai, Coral Celeste, and Steven Shafer. 2004. “Digital Inequality: From unequal access to differentiated use.” In K. Neckerman (Ed),  Social Inequality (p. 355-400). New York: Russell Sage Foundation

Contemporary:

Elliott, Thomas, and Jennifer Earl. 2016. “Online protest participation and the digital divide: Modeling the effect of the digital divide on online petition-signing.” New Media & Society 20(2):698-719.

Schradie, Jen. 2018. “The Digital Activism Gap: How Class and Costs Shape Online Collective Action.” Social Problems 65(1):51–74.

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Class and Participation in Movement and Electoral Politics

By Daniel Laurison

Although this is a forum on class and social movement participation, I am going to use this space to write about class and participation in electoral politics. This is for three reasons. First, that’s what I know the most about, so, you know, that’s what I’ve got to contribute. Second, because I believe that social movements and electoral politics ought to be thought about, studied and analyzed together far more often than they are. And finally, and most importantly, because I think there are real similarities in the ways in which poor and working-class people can be or feel excluded from engaging in both electoral and movement politics and organizations.  I think it’s especially worth reflecting on what we can say about class and political participation in this post-2016 era.

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The Grounded Logics of Everyday Inequality

By Andrea Voyer

For the past two and a half years I have been studying everyday inequality between people in three cross-class civic communities. I’ve been a participant observer among and conducted interviews with the parents of a public school, the members of a church, and the participants in a neighborhood council.

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Women in Resistance: What Women’s Organizations can do for Class Building

By Juhi Tyagi

“We, as Adivasi [tribal] women, could collect all men from the village and speak to them about women’s issues—at first, only when we were accompanied by the dalam [squad], since we were afraid to address men on our own. But as time went by and men realized we were associated with the women’s squad, we started to address them on our own. The biggest problem in every village was men getting drunk and hitting women. So, we would tell men not to drink. We then mobilized men to shut liquor depots with us, which were owned by economically powerful groups. Men became involved in this way.”

-Akhila, 39, Former Maoist Deputy Platoon Commander and Former Women’s Committee member.

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Understanding Power Dynamics in Cross-Class Coalitions

By Hahrie Han

As the daughter of Korean immigrants in Texas, I grew up knowing that to get what I wanted, I often had to find a way to translate across difference. Cultural, racial, linguistic, and socio-economic differences distinguished my family from the families of most of my classmates. Although I did not have the words to articulate it at the time, I implicitly recognized that the meanings and sensibilities I had were not always legible to my peers. Although I studied their world, they did not study mine. To fit in and negotiate the social dynamics of high school, I had to find ways to either make my world legible to them, or assimilate into theirs. In most cases, because they were many and I was one, because they were the norm and I was the outsider, because they had the weight of history behind them and I was a callow teenager, I assimilated.

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