Tag Archives: Social Movements

WTF M1GS? Occupy May Need to Separate to Unite

“Where’s the Fairness?” chanted about 300 striking Summit Medical Center nurses and other supporters on May 1 in front of Alta Bates Hospital on the Berkeley/Oakland, California border. This California Nurses Association (CNA) event was part of a string of events for the Occupy movement’s call for a May Day General Strike (M1GS). Reporters, tweeters, and bloggers converged in downtown Oakland to report on more tear gas and arrests, but a broader analysis of May Day in the Bay Area conveys a different story.

Historically, successful political movements have a broad-based alliance of distinct groups          engaged in their own struggles but which also come together under a common cause. On May Day, labor and community-based organizations, along with Occupiers, participated in a series of events which demonstrated the potential for this unity.

Yes, potential. When I mentioned this observation to some Occupy and labor activists, the reaction was that I was being, well, Pollyannaish. Indeed, two key actions that day created movement schisms. Nonetheless, it is because more organizations want to participate in this broader movement that these inevitable debates occur. Indeed, the organizing of diverse semi-coordinated actions that day by a variety of groups – Occupy, student, labor, immigrant, etc. – was a sign of the possibility of an alliance, however tenuous. Continue reading


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Since June 2011, I have been serving on the student advisory board of the journal  Social Problems. In that time, I have come across many wonderful social movement-related manuscripts. As issues come out, I will post about social movement-related articles included in those issues. Our first issue (February 2012), under Becky Pettit’s editorship at the University of Washington, includes several important contributions to the social movement area. For instance:

Holly J. McCammon – “Explaining Frame Variation: More Moderate and Radical Demands for Women’s Citizenship in the U.S. Women’s Jury Movements.”

While social movement scholars have added immeasurably to our knowledge of activist framing, few researchers analyze the circumstances leading to variation in the frames articulated by movement actors. In this study, I explore an important and understudied form of frame variation, whether activists use more moderate or more radical frames. Continue reading

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The Activist-Scholar Dance: Straight Talk from Social Movement Researchers

As social movement researchers, we often study groups that we are personally interested in. We may be sympathetic to their issue and perhaps even volunteer time and resource to the cause.

Do our personal politics prevent us from doing sound research? Does embodying the activist-scholar role make us less legitimate within the academy?

The Call to Mobilize: How Strong is It for You?

In a recent roundtable on The Society Pages, “Social Scientists Studying Social Movements,” two well-established researchers describe their personal experience in negotiating the activist-scholar dance in their work. David S. Meyer and Myra Marx Ferree discuss their somewhat divergent approaches in doing research on issues that they have a deep personal interest in.

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