Does the process of constitution-making matter more than the particularities of constitutional design? Recently published research by a growing range of social scientists and legal scholars indicates yes. For instance, in their book Constituents Before Assembly, Todd Eisenstadt, A. Carl LeVan, and Tofigh Maboudi provide their findings from a sweeping empirical analysis of the effects of popular participation in constitutionalization.1 The takeaway? As noted in my Law & Society Review review, “participatory constitution-making…has a lasting and systematic effect on subsequent democratization.”2
Adrien Nemoz was 21 years old when his friends told him in horror that a stained-glass portrait of Marshal Pétain, the French Vichy regime’s authoritarian leader, was hanging in a chapel across the Fourvière Basilica. A tall, imposing Church overlooking Lyon, the Fourvière was seen by many as the moral center of the city. For Nemoz and his peers, it was unconscionable that a tribute to Pétain would hang in this holy place. After all, only several months earlier Pétain had agreed to an armistice with Hitler, resulting in the Nazi occupation of half of France. Something had to be done.
We are familiar with framing effects, and aware that different news media use headlines and content to frame stories differently. Christian Davenport recently explored the issue in some depth in his 2010 book. Over the weekend a very nice illustration of this problem unfolded with respect to the Standing Rock (Sioux) Tribe’s #NoDAPL protests against the North Dakota Access Pipe Line being built by Energy Transfer Partners with the support of the US Army Corps of Engineers North Dakota.
Writing for the Associated Press, James MacPherson (@MacPhersonJA) used the “balanced and objective” passive voice construction so prized by the Western news outlets that grew dominant during the mid 20th Century. Here is an image of his story published by ABC News.
Snow, David A., E. Burke Rochford, Steven K. Worden and Robert D. Benford. 1986. “Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobilization, and Movement Participation.” American Sociological Review 51(4):464-81.
Snow, David A. 2004. “Framing Processes, Ideology, and Discursive Fields.” Pp. 380-412 in The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, edited by D. A. Snow, S. A. Soule and H. Kriesi. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher.
David Snow, Robert Benford, Holly McCammon, Lyndi Hewitt, and Scott Fitzgerald. 2014. The Emergence, Development, and Future of the Framing Perspective: 25+ Years Since “Frame Alignment”. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 19(1):23-46
Gustav Brown. 2014. Does Framing Matter? Institutional Constraints on Framing in Two Cases of Intrastate Violence. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 19(2):143-164.
When I think about the distinction between members and challengers, I think of the differences in the adversarial relationship with the target of change. Challengers necessarily have an adversarial relationship with their target who does not recognize them as a legitimate spokesperson for some constituency. Members have a more ambivalent and mixed relationship. Representatives of the target are willing to sit down with them and discuss issues but it remains to be seen whether this leads to genuine change or is simply an attempt at cooptation. The task, for analysts, is to do justice to the variable nature of this relationship and to its changes over time. Continue reading →
Climate activism seems to be everywhere: from the wheat fields of Nebraska, to the halls of the United Nations, to university campuses all over the world. The massive People’s Climate March in November, 2014 brought more than 300,000 people to the streets of New York. Big events are also being planned for the next UN climate meeting in Paris, along with continued pressure in capitals, universities, cities, and corporations all over the world.
In my recent book on international climate activism, I argue that one of the big developments in climate activism has been a shift in the way that activists are framing the climate issue. Continue reading →
Data come in all shapes and sizes, but in the past ten years we have seen huge leaps in the amount of data readily available in the form of unstructured or semi-structured text. This presents both opportunities and challenges for social science researchers, including social movements scholars.
Two sources of text-as-data have long been staples in social movements research: newspapers and organizational literature. Newspapers have been used as the basis for event counts (e.g., here, here, and here), as a measurement of movement frames, and as a movement outcome (e.g., here and here). Organizational literature is often used to show that the way social movements themselves express ideas is critical to their success (e.g. here, here, and here). Continue reading →
For some time social scientists that study mass violence, right wing and repressive social movements, and interethnic and interracial competition have analyzed similar collective phenomena using quite different theoretical frameworks. Inattention to theoretical overlaps across these subfields has not prevented scholars within them from generating robust findings and insights, but it has hampered efforts toward the development of a broader synthetic research agenda on social movements, violence, and social control. This inattention is particularly important given the recent movement of scholarship on mass violence and racial/ethnic competition toward meso- and micro-levels of analysis, placing them squarely within the territory of social movement scholarship (Collins 2008; Cunningham 2012, 2013; Karstedt 2013; King 2004; Owens et al. 2013; Tilly 2003).
My research addresses these issues by focusing on the role of collective action in constructing, defending, or transforming structures of racial, ethnic, and political inequality. Specifically, I focus on the mobilization of social control efforts by nominal power holders against disadvantaged groups, and seek to extend macro-level theories of interethnic competition and group threat by specifying the meso-level mechanisms that mobilize or demobilize adherents across divergent social environments. Continue reading →
Proponents of the oilsands and the pipeline, including the Prime Minister’s office, have dismissed celebrity involvement in Alberta’s oil industry. According to Yahoo Canada News, the Prime Minister’s Office has commented in the past about “the energy-demanding lifestyle often afforded to such celebrities” and Tim Moen, leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, referred to it as celebrity cheap talk demonizing Alberta’s oilsands. Moen told Yahoo Canada News that “The people I take seriously are people who actually create solutions. People that find ways to get cheap clean energy into the hands of people who want it.” Continue reading →
In this essay I would like to explore an idea that has been the focus of much of my own research on the collective dynamics of mass violence – that the ways in which collective boundaries are framed by influential state and non-state actors can have significant impacts on the contours of state and non-state repression. Almost 15 years ago, in the wake of massive collective violence in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Brubaker and Laitin (1998) made a plea for the disaggregation of the monolithic phenomena of “ethnic violence.” They influentially argued that viewing violence as inhering along ethnic lines often ignored the ways in which violence was purposively framed as such, clouding understanding of the heterogeneous causal processes at work within specific cases. Since then, numerous comparative studies have demonstrated the ways in which the framing of conflicts along collective boundaries—be they ethnic, racial, political, and/or religious—can have enormous impacts on the degree of violent repression used by both state and non-state actors (e.g. Gagnon 2004; Hagan and Rymond-Richmond 2009; Oberschall 2000; Owens Forthcoming 2014; Straus 2006; Su 2011). Continue reading →
The content of Mobilizing Ideas occurs in two threads. The Essay Dialogue is an exchange on a salient topic, featuring insights from scholars and activists, occurring over the course of two months. The Daily Disruption is a blog covering social movements news, from current events to new research by emerging movements scholars. Use the menu at the top or the links below to access either of these full threads.