Tag Archives: Sierra Club

Blogging, politics and social change

Back in 2008, the New York Times published an article titled “The Year of the Political Blogger.” The article focused on the inclusion of online “partisan” bloggers into the electoral process via political conventions and meetings. The director of the Democratic National Convention Committee told the NYT that “Credentialing more bloggers opens up all sorts of new audiences.” Yet, many bloggers felt that they were, to quote, “on the low-end of the totem pole” when it came to their inclusion vis-à-vis other members of the media. Continue reading

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Where Activists Go Next

Catherine Corrigall-Brown’s new book Patterns of Protest: Trajectories of Participation in Social Movements arrived in my mailbox the other day. Her work extends researcPatterns of Protest coverh on movement participants from the moments of initial recruitment, joining, and participation to activist trajectories over time. She notes four distinct patterns that activists follow—persistence (join a group and stay with it), transfer (join, leave for another, potentially repeat), abeyance (join, leave for a while, return to activism, potentially repeat), and disengagement (join, leave for good)—and provides several explanations for why individuals end up following each path. One particularly interesting explanatory focus is the meeting of individual identity and organizational context. As she summarizes:

…the identities participants develop in the course of engagement are shaped by the group’s organizational context. Individuals in multi-issue organizations, for example, which offer a cohesive ideology bringing together a variety of specific issues, are more likely to identify with that ideology than with the specific movement organization in which they participate. As a result, these individuals often transfer to other groups because of the connection between the specific issues of those groups and a larger interconnected set of beliefs. (p126)

Carl Pope

Former Sierra Club Executive Director and Chairman, Carl Pope

While Corrigall-Brown’s empirical focus is on rank-and-file activists, this instance of activist “transfer” got me immediately thinking about the recent announcement of Carl Pope’s departure from the Sierra Club. While the LA Times is framing Pope’s departure as a split over strategy, one could certainly interpret the move within the framework of Corrigall-Brown’s activist trajectories. Continuing Sierra Club leaders suggest that the transition is based in large part on biographical factors as the 66 year old Pope seeks to downshift from the “hugely demanding” roles he has played with the Club over time (Pope spent 38 years with the Sierra Club, including 16 as its executive director and two as its chairman). Pope’s statement, however, suggests that the breadth of his experiences within the Sierra Club may have laid the foundation for his departure from it. As he said in his email to the organization “I am opening my dance card to new partners. In December, I shall stand down as Chairman to undertake a new initiative. My hope is to pull together a broad front of environmental groups, labor unions, clean-economy innovators, mainline manufacturers, civil rights organizations, and state and local officials to insist that candidates for public office in 2012 address the role of innovation, clean technology, and manufacturing in rebuilding the American economy and restoring the American middle class.”

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