Category Archives: Great Books

Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity: A Review

By Todd Nicholas Fuist

Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Liliana Mason



Scholars of social movements have long known that identity is a key factor in mobilization. Taylor and Whittier’s classic 1992 piece and Melucci’s 1989 and 1996 books highlighted the value of the concept for understanding movement action, and it has been theoretically central to the subfield ever since. A number of recent books, however, have demonstrated the usefulness of identity for thinking about politics more broadly. This includes the recent wave of ethnographies focusing on conservatives, such as Hochchild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, Gest’s The New Minority, Braunstein’s Prophets and Patriots, and Burke’s Race, Class, and Gender in the Tea Party, as well as work on voting behavior, like Achen and Bartels’ Democracy for Realists. These books demonstrate the degree to which identity underpins the entirety of our political behavior.

Liliana Mason’s Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, is a new and compelling entry in our ever-unfolding understanding of identity and politics.  … Continue reading

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Socio-political Dynamics within the Crisis of the Left: A Review

By Marcos Perez

Socio-Political Dynamics within the Crisis of the Left. Edited by Juan Pablo Ferrero, Ana Natalucci, and Luciana Tatagiba


Over the past few years, political developments in South America have signaled the emergence of a new right-wing regional bloc of governments. There is a lot of good research on the role played by grassroots organizations in the “pink tide” of progressive administrations in the first decade and a half of the century. However, not much has been written about how mobilization processes contributed to the end of this wave. The edited volume by Ferrero, Natalucci and Tatagiba contributes to filling in this gap, and thus should be on the reading list of anyone interested in the region.

The different chapters make three crucial contributions. Continue reading

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Latino Mass Mobilization, Immigration, Racialization, and Activism: A Review

By Maria Mora

Latino Mass Mobilization, Immigration, Racialization, and Activism by Chris Zepeda-Millán


Latino Mass Mobilization, Immigration, Racialization, and Activism is a must-read book for the summer for any social movement scholar, immigration scholar, community organizer or labor activist. Chris Zepeda-Millán’s multiple award-winning book makes an important contribution by offering one of the first systematic analysis of the 2006 immigrant rights movement. Zepeda-Millán examines the emergence of one of the largest social movement campaigns in the 21st century for the working class and the various mechanisms that made the mobilizations possible with separate chapters focusing on coalitions, threats, racialization, and everyday organizations. Zepeda-Millán also incorporates geographical variation in his study by scrutinizing immigrant collective action in Los Angeles, New York City and Fort Myers (Florida) to better understand movement emergence and obstacles at the local level.

In his first chapter, Zepeda-Millán gives a brief history of the economic policies that led to migration to and within the US. Continue reading

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The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance: A Review

By Matthew Baggetta

The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance by Steven G. Rogelberg


Back in 2012, I reviewed a book that was definitely not about social movements as part of the first Mobilizing Ideas summer reading series, arguing that it could be about social movements—and that researchers and practitioners should be working its ideas into their social movement work. Seven years later, I’m going to do it again.

This time it’s Steven G. Rogelberg’s The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance (2019, Oxford University Press). Rogelberg is Professor of Organizational Science, Management, and Psychology at UNC Charlotte where he has been publishing research on meetings for the last 15 years. This book offers a brief, easy-to-read summary of findings from the growing field of meeting science.

Rogelberg aims the book at… Continue reading


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Great Books for Summer Reading 2019

Every June and July, we have a tradition of offering readers a broad selection of great books to add to their summer reading lists. This year we asked contributors to recommend the one book social movement scholars and activists should be reading this summer. Contributors chose their favorite social movement or protest-related book, whether scholarly or activist, fiction or nonfiction, and wrote a short review. In past years, the selection of books has been diverse, and we hope to again offer something of interest to everyone.

Many thanks to our wonderful group of contributors.

Matthew Baggetta, Indiana University — The Surprising Science of Meetings: How you can Lead your Team to Peak Performance (essay)

Maria Mora, University of California, Merced — Latino Mass Mobilization, Immigration, Racialization, and Activism (essay)

Marcos Emilio Perez, Washington and Lee University — Socio-Political Dynamics within the Crisis of the Left (essay)

Todd Nicholas Fuist, Illinois Wesleyan University — Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity (essay)


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

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New Book Release: A Trump Book not about Trump

The Politics of Losing: Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment

Dr. Rory McVeigh, University of Notre Dame
Dr. Kevin Estep, Creighton University0821_001

“Trump Books” seem to be a dime-a-dozen since the 2016 presidential election, however, McVeigh and Estep offer something different.  They examine not the man, but Trump Supporters and the emerging structural conditions in the United States that he appealed to.  Building on McVeigh’s previous work on power devaluation theory and the Ku Klux Klan, McVeigh and Estep’s new book analyzes the parallels of the Klan of the 1920’s and Trump support today.  With a global reemergence of right-wing movements, their book investigates a topic that is timely for scholars in many contexts.

The Ku Klux Klan has peaked three times in American history: after the Civil War, around the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and in the 1920s, when the Klan spread farthest and fastest. Recruiting millions of members even in non-Southern states, the Klan’s nationalist insurgency burst into mainstream politics. Almost one hundred years later, the pent-up anger of white Americans left behind by a changing economy has once again directed itself at immigrants and cultural outsiders and roiled a presidential election.

In The Politics of Losing, Rory McVeigh and Kevin Estep trace the parallels between the 1920s Klan and today’s right-wing backlash, identifying the conditions that allow white nationalism to emerge from the shadows. White middle-class Protestant Americans in the 1920s found themselves stranded by an economy that was increasingly industrialized and fueled by immigrant labor. Mirroring the Klan’s earlier tactics, Donald Trump delivered a message that mingled economic populism with deep cultural resentments. McVeigh and Estep present a sociological analysis of the Klan’s outbreaks that goes beyond Trump the individual to show how his rise to power was made possible by a convergence of circumstances. White Americans’ experience of declining privilege and perceptions of lost power can trigger a political backlash that overtly asserts white-nationalist goals. The Politics of Losing offers a rigorous and lucid explanation for a recurrent phenomenon in American history, with important lessons about the origins of our alarming political climate.

Available Now on
McVeigh, Rory, and Kevin Estep. 2019. The Politics of Losing: Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment. New York: Columbia University Press.

Price: $32.00

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The Politics of Demobilization: A Review of Soybeans and Power

By Federico M. Rossi

Cover Soybeans and Power.jpg

Lapegna, Pablo (2016), Soybeans and Power: Genetically Modified Crops, Environmental Politics, and Social Movements in Argentina (New York: Oxford University Press).

Soybeans and Power by Pablo Lapegna takes the case of a rural community in Formosa (a northern province of Argentina that borders on Paraguay) to explore a crucial question for social movement studies: how to explain the demobilization of a social movement. A poor community of peasants experiencing local-level impacts of the global process of adoption of genetically modified crops (GMCs) and agrochemicals reacts differently in two instances. In the first instance, in the face of health and economic consequences associated with GMCs cultivation, it responds by mobilizing. In another instance, it reacts to the same consequences differently—by actively demobilizing. These seemingly contradictory strategies leads the author to propose an answer to the crucial question of why people sometimes choose to mobilize and sometimes to demobilize on the same issues and with similar grievances. According to Lapegna, cooptation and clientelism are insufficient explanations, and in this case there is no repression. Therefore, he proposes viewing demobilization as an agency-based process (p. 14, 16) that requires an ethnographic approach in order to appreciate the multiple layers at play in these sorts of dynamics, without overemphasizing the role of the elites while grasping the actors’ understandings of the dynamics at hand. Continue reading

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