analyzing the anti-iraq war movement 10 years later

Our friends at Notre Dame have another interesting forum on the topic of social movements. What should we learn from anti-Iraq War movement? Mobilizing Ideas recruited some top notch movement researchers and activists to comment, such as Catherine Corrigal-Brown, David Cortright, William Gamson, Kathy Kelly, Lisa Leitz, David Meyer, Andrew Yeo, and Eric Stoner.

My co-author, Michael Heaney, was invited to respond as well. A few clips from his essay:

The antiwar movement helped Barack Obama to establish credibility as a genuine antiwar candidate in 2008 by creating the space for him to speak at a 2002 antiwar rally in Chicago when he was an Illinois state senator.  As a result, the antiwar movement contributed to US Senator Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 Democratic primary contest against Hillary Clinton, which paved the way to his election to the presidency.  It is unclear, however, how President Obama’s policies in Iraq differed from those that would have been implemented by Clinton, who would probably would have defeated John McCain had she been the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2008.


Ironically, the limited policy impact of the antiwar movement likely resulted, in part, from its mostly peaceful, nonviolent, nondisruptive nature.  Social movement activism during the age of the “social movement society” has made protest a normal, routine part of politics.  Politicians are likely to ignore movement activity when they find it nonthreatening.  President Bush, for example, dismissed the historic, internationally-coordinated protests of February 15, 2003 as a mere “focus group.”[5]  In contrast, during the Vietnam antiwar movement, violent clashes between police and demonstrators tended to move policy in the direction of whoever perpetuated the violence.[6]

Check out the entire forum.

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Written by fabiorojas

July 12, 2012 at 12:01 am

4 Responses

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  1. I know it is off the topic here, for which I apologize, but readers here might know: Are there good sociological studies of the ‘conservative movement’ — naming it as such? (By sociological, in this instance, I mean ‘by sociologists.’)



    July 12, 2012 at 1:28 am

  2. I’m not familiar with the research itself, but this might be a good place to start:

    Center for the Comparative Study of Right Wing Movements



    July 12, 2012 at 6:54 am

  3. Austen, you might also want to check the 2011 Annual Review piece on the conservative movement by Gross, Medvetz and Russell.



    July 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm

  4. Thank you…The Gross, Medvetz, and Russell (2011) article is revelatory. I was wondering if sociologists had yet begun studying the depth and reach of the conservative movement. I will track down the paper in the nearest library, but for now, the abstract is fascinating. I endorse the idea that social contexts throughout US are impacted mightily by the conservative movement. Here’s the abstract:

    The American conservative movement that began to gain steam in the post–World War II era had, by the 1980s, emerged as a transformative political force in the United States and the world. Yet sociology has been slower than other disciplines to come to grips with conservatism. In the hope of spurring more research, we review the substantial literature on the conservative movement produced by historians, political scientists, and serious journalists since the mid-1990s, along with the more limited number of sociological contributions. After identifying what we see as a promising approach for conceptualizing conservatism, we illustrate the benefits of sociological engagement by showing how three areas of sociology that might at first glance seem disconnected from the movement—the sociology of intellectuals, theories of social change, and scholarship on stratification—could profit from consideration of the conservative case



    July 13, 2012 at 11:27 pm

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