Protestors and their Targets

For July, we are continuing or dialogue on protestors and their targets. In anticipation of the CBSM section workshop before this year’s ASA conference in Chicago, we are hosting a dialogue concerning the relationship between protesters and their targets. Considering classic theories concerned with political institutions and companies, as well as the more recent focus on targeting lifestyle, culture, and public behavior, we want to discuss the plethora of actor-target interactions involved in collective action. We also hope to include the ways movements consider multiple targets and their perception by the media and public at large. Considering interactions between these actors and factors is encouraged. More specific considerations might include: How do movements identify targets? How do strategic actions of targets affect movements? How do movements change actions to fit their audience? What effects do media coverage and public perception have on movement success? We asked our contributors to consider these and similar topics in their posts.

Thank you to our contributors for their insightful essays, they are all listed below.

Round 1
Dana M. Moss, University of California – Irvine (essay)
Marc Dixon, Dartmouth College (essay)
Donatella della Porta, European University Institute (essay)
Charles Seguin, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (essay)
Heidi Reynolds-Stenson, University of Arizona (essay)
David Everson, University of Notre Dame (essay)
Deana A. Rohlinger, Florida State University (essay)

Round 2
William Gamson, Boston College (essay)
Mary-Hunter McDonnell, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (essay)
Brayden King, Northwestern University (essay)
Catherine Corrigall-Brown, University of British Columbia (essay)

As always, we invite you to join the dialogue by posting your reactions to these essays in the comments sections.

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, and Dan Myers

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Protestors and their Targets

Knowing Who You Are: How Group Identity Shapes the Perceived Legitimacy of Tactics

By Catherine Corrigall-Brown

In the first set of essays for this dialogue published last month, Deana Rohlinger discussed the important role of reputation and how it affects the strategic decision making of movement organizations, particularly in relation to the media. In addition to the strength of a group’s reputation, a group’s identity also shapes the extent to which the media listens to it and how the use different tactics by organizations are viewed by the media and public as a whole. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Protestors and their Targets

The ADA at 25: Why Movements Matter Following Legislative “Victories”

00025c69_medium

The Disability Pride Parade in New York City, July 2015

Movement scholars have become increasingly interested in the ways in which social movements directly shape the policy agenda; that is, what role they play in how issues gain prominence in the government and how these issues get framed. Much of the focus has been on the relationship between increasing movement activity, such as organizational expansion, protest and lobbying, and increasing resources government allocates to an issue.

However, less is known about the link between movement mobilization and actual legislative promises once policies are enacted, especially in light of subsequent demobilization and issue decline. It’s important to draw attention to this less developed area of study given the renewed interest in defining successful social change and whether movements are themselves successful in influencing these (policy) outcomes.

Take for instance, the case of disability employment anti-discrimination legislation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was proclaimed the “emancipation proclamation” for people with disabilities and the most significant civil rights law since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Not surprisingly, it was seen as an important victory for disability advocates in the government and for the disability rights movement. But, in a recent op-ed for USA Today, I argued that when it comes to employment and earnings outcomes, the ADA has failed to deliver. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Disruption

NEW DOCUMENTARY: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

A new documentary on the women’s movement in the 1960s, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, is screening around the country and is available on DVD for instruction use. The film includes a lot of fascinating, previously unreleased footage from the early years of the 2nd Wave feminist movement, as well as new interviews with individuals integral to its founding.

The film is compelling in part because it demonstrates how ideas about gender that now feel common sense were revolutionary not long ago, while also underscoring the fact that the movement’s work is still incomplete. It is also interesting to see how proud those interviewed are of their involvement in the early years of the movement and how much it shaped the rest of their lives. Finally, the documentary provides a unique glimpse into the internal dynamics and disagreements within the movement during these early years. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Disruption

Public Shaming and the 21st-Century Crowd

Witch-hunts (and stories such as The Scarlet Letter) have puzzled me but I thought they were things of the past. Then, I saw the uncomfortable-to-watch talk by Monica Lewinsky in which she argues she was patient zero of the new era of Internet shaming. So, when a book club I have been thinking of joining decided to read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead, 2015) by journalist Jon Ronson, promising to shed light on the 21st-century version of public shaming, I could not resist. The book ended up being not only an engaging vacation read but a source of important questions social scientists should think about too. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Great Books for Summer Reading 2015

After Marriage Equality: LGBT Rights and Religious Freedom

Following the Supreme Court’s recent decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, what are the next steps for the LGBT rights movement?

Over the past few weeks, scholars, activists, and politicians alike have begun pondering the path forward for the LGBT movement. In a recent symposium over at Contexts for example, a group of sociologists considers several possibilities for the LGBT rights movement, including renewed focuses on employment and housing discrimination, youth homelessness, violence against the trans community, and intersectional justice. While a small number of activist organizations such as Freedom to Marry have announced that they will now shut down as a result of marriage equality being achieved, most LGBT rights organizations have signaled that they will continue to fight for legal and cultural equality in other social realms – although they don’t yet agree on what their priorities should entail. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Disruption

Institutional Opportunities and a response to this month’s essay dialogue

The essays posted in this month’s dialogue are so diverse and interesting! Scholars discuss the problems and promises of various choices activists make with their targets. In King’s essay he discusses the danger of cooptation of activists’ when cooperative strategies are used. When activists target the state, or when activists use the state to promote change to non-state targets, what is the effect of the small gains they often achieve? In democracies like the U.S., where the state is designed to absorb factional conflict (Meyer 2015), I think this is one of the most important questions for movements scholars and activists. I grapple with the question of incrementalism versus cooptation in my research. I’m finding a strong case for incrementalism only because of the nature of the movement’s institutional target that I’m examining, specifically, laboratory science. I use the animal advocacy movement and its work to reform and/or end the use of animals in research as my case study. Aligned with Einwohner’s work on “practice opportunity structure,” I think the nature of the institution that activists target determines their choice of strategies and tactics as well as the outcomes of those choices. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Disruption

The Choice between Public and Private Targets in Anti-Corporate Activism

By Mary-Hunter McDonnell

While there is a considerable and expanding body of work dedicated to understanding the targeting decisions of movements operating in the private sector, this body of work has developed in large part in isolation from more traditional work exploring public sector movements. But this separation in the literature ignores potentially important connections between private-sector and public-sector movements, as well as the fact that social movements often have the freedom to choose whether to target industry incumbents or the state. For example, contemporary anti-corporate movements in the US regularly choose the field on which to wage their campaigns for industry reform, either by targeting the public sector (a top-down strategy where the movement pushes for new regulations that will pertain to all private sector companies) or the private sector (a bottom-up strategy where the movement tries to win concessions from individual companies that it can then mobilize to pressure industry or public sector officials to create industry-wide change through new standards or regulations). Thus the choice of which sector to target is a first-order strategic decision for many movements, but it is one that is often overlooked or taken for granted in the research. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Protestors and their Targets, Uncategorized