Category Archives: Daily Disruption

Race, Gender, and the Study of Far Right Social Movements: An Interview with Kathleen Blee

Professor Kathleen Blee is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is author of four books and recipient of numerous awards for her research and teaching. Much of her research focuses on right-wing social movements, specifically gender in organized racism.

Pundits and scholars alike have pointed to what appears to be increasing visibility of far right figures and ideas in mainstream media and popular culture. Below is an edited transcript of an interview I conducted with Blee in December about what her research can tell us about the results of the November election, how organized racism is changing in the 21st century, and what this means for social movement scholars going forward. Continue reading

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New Documentary Film – The Activists: War, Peace, and Politics in the Streets

Bullfrog Films has released a new educational documentary film, titled The Activists, which may be of interest to many of the readers of Mobilizing Ideas. Michael T. Heaney, author of Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11 (Cambridge 2015), is among the producers of the project, along with Melody Shemtov and Marco Roldán. The film is priced for purchase by libraries. Discounts are available for community groups or to rent the film. Heaney is available to Skype to your classroom or community group if you show the film. More information is available here: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/acts.html

Synopsis

Activists and activism have long been a part of the struggle for peace and justice in American politics and society. Activists have fought battles for civil rights, voter enfranchisement, collective bargaining, and an end to wars. While these struggles have sometimes yielded significant victories, and at other times resulted in disappointing defeats, activism has always been driven by ordinary people who give freely of their time and resources to try to bring about their visions for a new world. However, activists – as well how they fit into the political process – are often overlooked or misunderstood by their fellow citizens. Continue reading

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Crises of Capital, Populist Politics

The social movements field of scholarship no longer holds strain and breakdown theories in high regard when attempting to understand and explain mobilization emergence. However, as micromobilization theorist Aldon Morris explained in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, collective action and social movement consciousness must be located within the systems of domination that oppress actors in a myriad of ways. It might be possible then to think of crises of capitalism and heightened periods of economic exploitation as an underlying factor that inflames simmering racial tensions and popular protests over scarce resources. Continue reading

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The Fast and The Furious: protest impact

Are protests effective? This straightforward question interests both scholars and lay observers of protest. Whereas scholars most frequently answer the question with a nuanced ‘it depends’ and start narrating about contingencies; citizens and especially journalists most often simply want to hear impressive stories. Not the historical cases everybody is familiar with, but preferably more recent ones. Tales of contemporary struggles that truly show the potency of protest.

In the last few months, several examples of protest and success covered in international media caught my attention. These protests were noteworthy because, contrary to what much scholarly work suggests—that is, that protest is especially effective in the long run—these actions succeeded extremely quickly, in a matter of days. Their success seemed to be as sudden as their emergence. Continue reading

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“ ‘Walk Together Children!’ The Charismatic Leadership and Race-Conscious Politics of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.”

This month, we’ve celebrated the birth and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has become the face of African American civil rights in the United States and human rights worldwide. While there is much of King’s legacy that remains under appreciated, particularly his post-1963 “I Have a Dream” speech critiques of capitalism and worker’s rights protests, there is also room to explore the influence of lesser-known Civil Rights advocates and activists. Continue reading

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Citizens and the Crisis: a documentary

Last month I attended the closing conference of the LIVEWHAT project. LIVEWHAT stands for “Living With Hard Times”. It is an EU-funded research project coordinated by Prof. Marco Giugni that investigates  citizens’ responses to the economic crisis in nine European countries.

Besides its fascinating topic and research questions (read more about the project here), what intrigued me most was the fact that shooting a documentary film was part of the project. During the closing conference,  “Citizens and the Crisis” premiered. Its three parts-of about 15 minutes each- can be viewed here; part 1 is featured below. Continue reading

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Mobilization in the Trump Era

Over the course of this last year, I worked on a paper titled “Elites, Policy and Social Movements” now published in Research in Political Sociology. In short, the paper is about how challengers, over the long run, develop ties to political elites and political entrepreneurs and how the networks they create shape policy change. Like some of my other work, I focus on the insider-outsider relationship among actors working on similar social change projects.

I started writing this paper during the heated Democratic primaries when Hillary Clinton was fighting to secure her place with Democratic voters and seeking to appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters. A particular exchange between Clinton and a BlackLivesMatter activist left a lasting impression. Continue reading

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