“Together we can cool the planet.” With this phrase (explained in an accessible 15-minute clip), the global social movement Via Campesina launched a campaign in 2015 to draw attention to the role of industrial or corporate agriculture in global warming and to advocate for solutions that promote agroecology and social justice.
Social Movements: The Structure of Collective Mobilization
Dr. Paul Almeida, University of California–Merced
Paul Almeida’s timely work, Social Movements: The Structure of Collective Mobilization, offers a new resource for scholars and community members interested in movements by excluded social groups and their fight for social change. Almeida’s work provides important lessons for students, scholars, and activists by discussing how movements emerge and the reasons individuals choose to participate in collective action. Continue reading
The Politics of Losing: Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment
Dr. Rory McVeigh, University of Notre Dame
Dr. Kevin Estep, Creighton University
“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.
Data limitations remain one of the challenges of scholars seeking to publish work on social movements and activism. But, there’s a new tool in town that might help social movement scholars overcome some small part of those long-standing data issues. Google recently released a Beta feature called “Google Dataset Search.” The tool compiles datasets that meet their requirements (contain metadata and structured data, and exist on pages with sitemaps). This means there are many datasets that are not being catalogued, but the developers have released guidelines in case others want to ensure their data is included in the search. For a full description of the tool, you can read their blog.
I took the tool for a spin to get a sense how it might be useful for movement scholars. I searched “protest” to get started and was pleasantly surprised that the large number of search results included sites I often search for data (e.g., ICPSR) and many small, one-time studies I’d not heard about prior. Scrolling through, there was a diversity in the type of data (both quantitative and qualitative) as well as in the size and extensiveness of the datasets. In exploring briefly, for instance, I located a dataset containing a twitter archive from the Women’s March in 2017 as well as interview data on protests across Europe.
Right now, I’m working with some lynching data, so I went ahead and searched “lynching” to see what was catalogued. There, I only received 5 search results. On the positive side, I found datasets I did not know about prior, like this one from a data scientist. On the other hand, I did not see data sets I expected like the EJI lynching dataset. The limited terms of inclusion remain a restriction to finding data. However, the capacity to locate unknown and available data is novel and potentially useful, especially for young scholars who are looking for opportunities to publish work in Social Movements.
During the last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made waves by calling for a Green New Deal to combat climate change, a call that has been branded impossible and unrealistic despite climatologists’ urgent calls for wide-scale change. However, human impact on the Earth’s environment has been so devastating that geological scientists have indicated that we are in a new planetary epoch called the Anthropocene. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA point out that the five warmest years on global record have come in the 2010s. Frequent wildfires, extended droughts, and increased duration and intensity of tropical storms characterize this new climate. Unfortunately, the IPCC predicts that these conditions will worsen, as they expect the Earth’s temperature will rise 1.5 Celsius by 2030.
In spite of this existential threat to human existence, climate change has received little attention in recent presidential elections, and the Trump administration is undermining, rather than aiding efforts to slow global warming.
This month, we are joined by a policy scholar and an activist. Many thanks for their contributions on this topic:
- Jennifer Hadden, University of Maryland (Video)
- Garrett Blad, SustainUS and Sunrise Movement, (essay)
Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo
By Garrett Blad
On a rainy Sunday the weekend after the 2018 midterm elections, some two hundred young people filled the pews of St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. The young faces chanting and singing in the pews belonged to the Sunrise Movement, a new movement of young people fueled with anger at four decades of political inaction on climate change. Politicians on both sides call them naive for demanding change. The next day, they planned to protest and lobby the new Democratic majority, notably the soon-to-be leader Nancy Pelosi, to back what they called a Green New Deal. The plan calls for a nothing less than WW-II-scale mobilization to transform the American economy to 100% renewable energy in just 10 years. Continue reading
Scholarly works referenced in this post include my book on global climate change activism Networks in Contention (2015), an important book by Doug McAdam and Hilary Boudet on activism and siting politics for risky energy facilities, Putting Social Movements in their Place (2012), and a recent article I wrote with Jennifer Iris Alan on the NGO campaign around the issue of loss and damage.