Movements, anti-racism, and some ways through Thanksgiving

As a social movement scholar and a sociologist of race, gender and class, it’s hard to know where to start in making sense of the 2016 Presidential Election results. Regardless of whether one agrees that this election was a referendum on racism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia, it is indisputable that this year, a populist message articulated in racist, misogynist, and xenophobic tones was a winning one.

One book that has captured my heart and mind, which I have been studying and teaching in my classes, is Paula Ioanide’s The Emotional Politics of Racism: How Feelings Trump Facts in an Era of Colorblindness. (This subtitle was selected long before the 2015 campaign season began, I trust.) This is not a traditional social movement book, but it helps to sort through many of the vexing challenges both activists and movement scholars face at this conjuncture. Ioanide asks and seeks to answer why a majority of the US public has been recruited to support policies that actually contradict their own material interests. Her conclusion: racist, misogynist and homonormative/phobic discourses, frames, myths and signifiers (see too: Racism without Racists) generated a set of anxieties and aspirations, what Sarah Ahmed calls emotional economies, that have been largely determinant of the political alignments of most people in the United States. Continue reading


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Application Deadline for Young Scholars Conference, January 10!

Event hosted by the Center for the Study of Social Movements, University of Notre Dame March 31, 2017.

In conjunction with the presentation of the John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship in Social Movements, The Center for the Study of Social Movements at Notre Dame will be hosting the eighth annual “Young Scholars” Conference the day before the McCarthy Award events. The recipient of the McCarthy Award, David Meyer, will be in attendance and other senior scholars visiting Notre Dame for the award presentation will serve as discussants for the conference.

We would like to invite 12 advanced graduate students and early-career faculty to present a work solidly in-progress at the conference, enjoy an opportunity to discuss their work with some of the leading scholars in the field, and meet others in the new cohort of social movement scholars. Conference attendees will also be invited to the McCarthy Award Lecture and the award banquet on April 1, 2017.

The Center will pay for meals, up to three nights lodging, and contribute up to $500 toward travel expenses for each of the conference attendees. The Center will select invitees from all nominations received by January 10, 2017. Nominations will be accepted for ABD graduate students and those who have held their Ph.D.s less than two years. Nominations must be written by the nominee’s faculty dissertation advisor (or a suitable substitute intimately familiar with the nominee’s research, if the advisor is unavailable).

Nominations should include:

1. A letter of nomination.
2. The CV of the nominee.
3. A one-page abstract of the work to be presented.

Nominations should be sent via email to Rory McVeigh, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Movements,

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2017 McCarthy Award Winner – David Meyer!

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 David Meyer of the University of California at Irvine. The award not only recognizes David’s extraordinary achievements in research, but also the role that he has played in mentoring successive generations of scholars.

David has authored or edited six books and published well over 100 articles, book reviews, and reports that have shaped our thinking about social movements and contentious politics for several decades. Those who nominated him for the award also emphasized his tireless work as a conscientious mentor. Indeed, a group of his current and former students praised him for the attention he has given to their developing work while also characterizing him as a “constant cheerleader” who is “fully invested in supporting young scholars.” This year’s award ceremony will be held on April 1, 2017 on the Notre Dame campus. David will be giving a public lecture prior to the award banquet. At the banquet, several of his friends, colleagues and former students will be on hand to offer reflections on his work and influence on the field.

In conjunction with the presentation of the McCarthy Award, the Center for the Study of Social Movements will also be hosting the eight annual Young Scholars in Social Movements Conference on March 31, 2017. Advanced graduate students and recently minted PhD’s will be invited to present their work and receive feedback from the McCarthy Award winner and a distinguished panel of senior scholars in the field. A call for nominations for the Young Scholars Conference will be issued in a separate announcement.

We hope that many of you will mark your calendars and plan to join us for these events. Please be on the lookout for more information in the coming days and weeks—including instructions on how to apply for the Young Scholars Conference. We will distribute the news on the CBSM listserv and also post the news on our Center’s website.


Rory McVeigh

Director, Center for the Study of Social Movements
Professor of Sociology
University of Notre Dame
(574) 631-0386

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Informing Activists: How do movements influence elections?

Fabio Rojas

How do movements influence elections?

Recommended Readings


Meyer, David S., and Sidney G. Tarrow. 1998. The social movement society: Contentious politics for a new century. Rowman & Littlefield,


Heaney, Michael, and Fabio Rojas. 2011. “The partisan dynamics of contention: demobilization of the antiwar movement in the United States, 2007-2009.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 16, no. 1: 45-64.


Schwartz, Mildred A. 2010. “Interactions between social movements and US political parties.” Party Politics 16(5):587-607.


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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Informing Activists, Social Movements and Elections, Uncategorized

Social Movements and Elections

Although social movements may engage in extra-institutional politics, their activities often overlap substantially with electoral politics. For the second month, Mobilizing Ideas invites contributors to look at how political campaigns strategically use and interact with social movements. Current examples would be how the political campaigns in the US have related to Black Lives Matter or Occupy. We ask our contributors to consider how political actors use movements to advance their own goals, with or without the consent of those movements. Contributors also consider how movements respond to these efforts.

Many thanks to our fantastic group of contributors.

Catherine Kane, University of Maryland-College Park (essay)
Paul Burstein,University of Washington-Seattle (essay)

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

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Party or Movement? American Minor Parties and Political Campaigns

By Catherine Kane

K.B.: “What is the value of parties?”

Dr. Stein: “Those of us who do not have [wealthy backers], and that is most American people…we need to work together, and we need to build. Parties are how we work together across multiple issues, across time, and build from election to election. That is the only way we are going to change things.”

2012 Independent Political Report Interview of Green Party Presidential Nominee Jill Stein.

Conversations about American political campaigns focus on the major parties, their candidates, and increasingly on the social movements that ally with or protest them. Discussions of social movements in electoral politics highlight the dichotomy between these two forms of organization. Political parties compete in the election while movements take action through alignment with parties (e.g. endorsements, issue advocacy, mobilization), protest against parties (e.g. contesting platforms, disrupting events, or raising awareness of alternatives), or some combination of the two. Meanwhile, minor parties and their candidates enter the debate, only figuratively, through discussions of their capacity to spoil the election or to expand the representativeness of the American party system. This addresses only the electoral behavior of minor parties during political campaigns. In reality, minor parties take on the behaviors of both party and social movement organizations (SMOs). They run for office while also aligning with and protesting major party actions. Minor parties in America present an interesting form of movement and party interaction through their incorporation of both into one hybrid organization form. Continue reading

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Political Parties, Social Movements, and Presidential Elections, 1896 and 2012

By Paul Burstein


Presidential election results, 1896 and 2012 (source:

Anyone who looks at maps portraying presidential voting by state for 1896 and 2012 can easily reach two conclusions. First, American politics is amazingly static. The country remained divided into the same two blocs of states: the South and much of the North Central Midwest and Mountain states on one side, and on the other side New England, the Middle Atlantic and midwestern industrial states, and the west coast. Continue reading

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