Tag Archives: culture

Another “Turning Point Myth” in the Political Battle over Gun Control?

Parkland is increasingly portrayed as the mass shooting that will finally change things, but are pro-gun supporters right to claim that it is but another headline that gun control advocates are allegedly peddling will bring stricter gun control laws? Continue reading

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Informing Activists: How/When do movements affect culture?

Jennifer Earl

How/When do movements affect culture?

Recommended Readings:


Gamson, William A. 1998. “Social Movements and Cultural Change.” in From Contention to Democracy, edited by M. G. Giugni, D. McAdam and C. Tilly. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.


Earl, Jennifer. 2004. “The Cultural Consequences of Social Movements.” Pp. 508-30 in The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, edited by D. A. Snow, S. A. Soule and H. Kriesi. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.


Snow, D., Tan, A., & Owens, P. 2013. Social movements, framing processes, and cultural revitalization and fabrication. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 18(3):225-242.

For more research on the outcomes of social movements, check out this searchable, sortable database of outcomes research.

We would like to thank the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of the Youth Activism Project through the Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network.

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Creating Connections

Research on collective action tends to focus on the formidable structural obstacles that disadvantaged people face when they challenge the status quo. These groups often lack resources, such as money and volunteer labor. They often face a political structure in which elites bar them access or unite against them. They may experience direct coercion; they may be economically dependent on the very thing they wish to challenge; or they may anticipate defeat before even starting (Gaventa 1982).

Yet even when these broader conditions change, expanding the number of committed activists is fraught with difficulty. Groups fighting to create change often struggle to garner sympathy from the community in which they work. Or they may gain sympathy but struggle to recruit others to join them in acting against a threat (Beyerlein and Hipp 2006; Oegema and Klandermans 1994). Favorable organizational and political conditions alone do not by themselves create a resonant connection between committed activists and potential participants.

Before potential participants join efforts for change, groups with resources must create social ties, share understandings, overcome symbolic boundaries, and build trust together. Continue reading


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Subcultures, Style, and the Power of Social Movement Symbols

While I am loathe to begin a Daily Disruption by linking to notorious clickbait website Buzzfeed, this recent list of reasons why “punk is dead” popped up a number of times in my social media circles and it got me thinking about the intersections between subcultures and social movements, as well as what social movement theory could draw from contemporary work on audience studies.

The obvious message throughout the piece, and the reason the list was making the rounds on my social network feeds, is that punk is “dead” when it becomes institutionalized, mainstreamed, commodified, or popularized. In fact, while at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York this past summer, I did actually stop by the Met’s “Punk” exhibit, a loud, gaudy pastiche of lights, colors, and music, featuring punk fashions created by famous designers. Continue reading

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Racist Movements without Racists?

By Peter Owens

A recent New York Times article captures a disturbing, yet increasingly common, practice in the contemporary American white power movement: the secretive taking over of ostensibly marginal and largely white communities or buying up of marginal land in order to transform them into strongholds of white racist organizing. Most disturbingly, many of the residents of this small North Dakota town were unaware that such a process was unfolding underneath their feet until they were alerted by the Southern Poverty Law Center! Such strategies reflect the importance of creating various covert “free spaces,” as Simi and Futrell have noted, in which movement adherents are able to openly socialize with each other and profess their beliefs. In the case of contemporary white racist movements, the cultivation of these free spaces, often referred to within the movement as “pioneer little Europes” (PLEs), is a significant objective of their activism. Continue reading


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Predicting the Legal Outcomes on Marriage Equality: What Explains Legal Change Around Civil Liberties?

By Elizabeth E. Martinez

When do social movements use the courts in pursuing their goals? The question might be rewritten to say: assuming that activists will always or often use the courts as one of many strategies, when are they successful in court? When is the law likely to change in response to activist’s lawsuits? This is a pertinent question as we see the U.S. Supreme Court taking up two cases about marriage equality.

One case is about Proposition 8, which took away the right for same-sex couples to marry in California (Hollingsworth v. Perry), and the other case (U.S. v. Windsor) is about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Continue reading

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Youths, Spittle, and Reflections on “Emotion in Motion”

By Ron Eyerman

I followed a post-workout routine yesterday. I sat in an atrium café in a local downtown mall to eat a sandwich and look over notes from the morning’s writing. The café is on the ground floor beneath an open second tier walkway, where shoppers promenade by store windows. A group of young boys ran along the walkway shouting down at those, like myself, sitting below. Then two gobs of spittle cascaded down, aimed at me but hitting the cushion of the chair I was seated in. The boys ran off laughing gleefully. While I said nothing I was furious. I put down my pen and reflected on what just happened, why I was angry, but did nothing to show it. Most pointedly, I reflected about who those boys where and what might explain their behavior, I am after all a sociologist! Continue reading

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Fields of Minority Language Activism (Part One)

As part of my ongoing series on minority language advocacy,  in this post I continue my discussion  by looking at some of the strategic spaces or “fields” targeted by grassroots language activists.  In particular, I consider how minority language activists often work in “political” fields so as to influence state-level governance and policies. In my next post, I will consider how minority language activists also often work in “cultural” fields that involve reaching out to “everday” people and community members in ways that entail the orchestration of festive and educational actions.

Social movements working to resist and reverse processes of minority language loss, such as the Basque movement in France and Spain, the Welsh movement in Great Britain, the Ainu movement in Japan or the Navajo movement in the U.S, have emerged in response to enduring legacies of state-based nationalism founded upon the logic of linguistic assimilation.  Minority language activists challenge the idea that ethnolinguistic diversity is a social problem that must be contained and suppressed. In building these challenge local-level activists, however, need to target specific domains.

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Notes on the ideological challenges of minority language activism

In this post I continue my discussion of the transnational movement for linguistic rights by exploring some of the big ideological challenges facing minority language activists. As in any social movement context, proponents of linguistic rights and minority language revitalization must engage in a protracted battle of ideas so as to frame their agenda in a manner that generates legitimacy and support in the public sphere. Two of the most salient framing challenges faced by minority language advocates are linked to the utilitarian view of linguistic worth, and the political legacy of linguistic assimilation.   Continue reading

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Finding a Voice for Minority Languages

Around the world a host of grassroots actors and organizations have been mobilizing to combat the degeneration, decline and potential ‘death’ of minority languages. Minority language movements are rarely just about ‘saving’ languages per se. Rather, these movements are often engaged in organized and enduring efforts to re-define the practice of citizenship, promote alternative notions of nationhood and re-purpose public policies and institutions. While most of these movements face extraordinary challenges and dilemmas, many have also realized important social and political gains. Social movement scholars have much to contribute to the academic as well as political discussion on minority language issues yet their voices are acutely silent on linguistic issues. Social movement scholarship also has much to gain by taking a closer look at minority language movements.  Over the next few months I will be  writing  about minority language movements for Mobilizing Ideas. I start with a brief and general overview of the topic so as to invite students, researchers and activists alike to consider this most compelling but yet often over-looked form of mobilization. Continue reading


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