Tag Archives: trajectory

Moving On: The Anti-War Movement Ten Years Later

By Andrew Yeo

Millions of citizens around the world mobilized on February 13, 2003 to protest the impending U.S.-led invasion in Iraq.  It was arguably the largest anti-war protest in history.[i]   One month later, the United States and the coalition of the willing rolled into Iraq, initiating a war which would drag on for eight years.  As we now know, the Iraq invasion did not sustain the global anti-war effort as perhaps imagined by some of the earlier organizers.

Looking back, it is easy to dismiss the protests and broader anti-war movement (and by extension the peace movement[ii]) as ineffective and naïve.  It is also tempting for social movement scholars to respond by qualifying what defines movement “success,” and argue that anti-war mobilization, while failing to end (much less stop) the war, generated other intended or unintended social and political consequences. This includes raising public consciousness about the human effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; drawing support for center-left candidates or opposition parties; or building new transnational ties and networks. 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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