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Posts Tagged ‘political science

when hybrid organizational identities can help attract supporters – AJS paper by Heaney and Rojas now available online

How can social movements gain supporters?  According to Michael T. Heaney and Fabio Rojas‘s hot-off-the-virtual-press Jan. 2014 AJS paper “Hybrid Activism: Social Movement Mobilization in a Multimovement Environment,” one way that social movement organizations can appeal to prospective members is to use a hybrid identity that can attracts individuals from a variety of social movement interests. While prior studies have argued that hybrid organizations are penalized by an “illegitimacy discount” for not having a clear identity, the authors argue that boundary-crossing works for some contexts such as social movements.

Here’s the abstract:

Social movement organizations often struggle to mobilize supporters
from allied movements in their efforts to achieve critical mass. The
authors argue that organizations with hybrid identities—those whose
organizational identities span the boundaries of two or more social
movements, issues, or identities—are vital to mobilizing these constituencies.
They use original data from their study of the post-9/11 U.S.
antiwar movement to show that individuals with past involvement in
nonantiwar movements are more likely to join hybrid organizations
than are individuals without involvement in nonantiwar movements.
In addition, they show that organizations with hybrid identities occupy
relatively more central positions in interorganizational cocontact networks within
the antiwarmovement and thus recruit significantly more
participants in demonstrations than do nonhybrid organizations. Contrary
to earlier research, they do not find that hybrid organizations are
subject to an illegitimacy discount; instead, they find that hybridization
can augment the ability of social movement organizations to mobilize
their supporters in multimovement environments.

Kudos to the authors for wearing-out-the-shoe (p)leather: Using survey data collected from antiwar movement demonstrators in several major US cities between 2007-2009, the authors identified which organizations protestors belonged to, and which organizations had recruited them to these demonstrations.  After collecting online information about these organizations’ missions, a team of coders (followed by another team of coders for inter-rater reliability) then identified these organizations as belonging to one or more of 11 non–mutually exclusive categories: antiwar, peace, peace church, social justice, personal identity, partisan or ideological, education related, religious, environmental, labor union or labor related, and other.  Using these categories, the authors identified organizations as hybrids if they spanned categories.  As a validity check on this coding of organizational identities, the authors subsequently conducted interviews with organizational leaders.

Check out a preview here.

more self-managing organizations and the spread of participatory practices, part 2

Thanks to those who suggested additional examples of self-managing organizations on my previous post about self-managing organizations!  In the comments, Usman has also kindly provided a link to a documentary, The Take.  Such examples show how people use self-managing organizations to reverse economic decline or stagnation, as well as defend their community, dignity, and livelihoods.  For more examples of how grassroots organizations and democratic organizations can underpin economic revitalization, Orgheads might be interested in Jeremy Brecher‘s Banded Together: Economic Democratization in the Brass Valley (2011, University of IL Press).  Drawing on archival research, participant-observations of meetings, and interviews conducted about efforts to revitalize Western Connecticut’s Naugatuck Valley in residents and workers’ interests using Alinskyite methods, Brecher delves into several case studies of reorganizing the workplace, from factory to home-care.  (See my review of Brecher’s book in Contemporary Sociology for a more detailed synopsis.)

Participatory practices are also spreading to local governance in the US.  Last fall, with the help of local organization Community Voices Heard, the Participatory Budgeting Project, and scholars and other groups, and trained volunteers such as myself, four districts in NYC experimented with participatory budgeting.  Those who live, work, or attend school in these districts could propose and then prioritize projects on how to allocate several million dollars of city funds to improve community life.  Volunteer budget delegates then developed proposals selected at the neighborhood assemblies, which they presented to the public.  Residents aged 18 years and older voted for their top choices.  Elected officials then allocated funding to these choices; some allocated additional funds for proposals that hadn’t won the popular vote.  For more info on this experiment, see a PBS segment, which includes an interview with Celina Su, one of the advisers to this experiment.  (Su published Streetwise for Street Smarts: Grassroots Organizing and Education Reform in the Bronx, which compares Frierian and Alinskyite organizing tactics.)   See also my op-ed about this experiment and its implications for otherwise underrepresented voices in a local paper.

Think these practices might work in your hometown or organizations?  Add your comments and recommendations below.

Written by katherinechen

July 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm

fisking miller and rachman’s revolutionary check-list

green revolutionThe Economist’s Andrew Miller, a.k.a. Bagehot, has engaged Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times in a backandforth about the building blocks of revolution.  They list criteria that would, if met, point toward revolution in Iran and they conclude that most of these antecedents are present in Iran today, suggesting that revolution is possibly at hand.

Partly because I made such a point of it earlier, but also because I think it is potentially useful both to interested observers and to academics interested in social movements and social revolutions, I decided engage in a friendly academic fisking of their observations.  Bottom line: I end up being a bit less optimistic than they are.  Their points are listed in bold.  My reading of the literature and of how the situation in Iran measures up follows each.

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Written by seansafford

June 24, 2009 at 2:24 am

large processes, huge comparisons and the value of prediction

green revolution

Andrew Perrin points me toward an article by Charles Kurzman in Foreign Policy which argues:

In a year’s time, some of these [Iran] experts will crow that events have confirmed their analyses. Others will quietly remove this week’s remarks from their Web sites.

Yet all of these analyses are wrong, even if events unfold the way they predict. After all, if you make enough predictions, some are bound to look accurate. They are wrong because the outcome of this week’s events is simply unpredictable. Unpredictable means that no matter how well-informed you may be, it is impossible to know what will happen next. Moments of turmoil make a mockery of accumulated knowledge.

Fair enough.  But, that shouldn’t stop us from drawing on our received wisdom to make predictions anyhow.

I have been going back to look at the literature on revolutions (both to make sense of current events and also for scholarly reasons) and I came across a paper by Theda Skocpol written in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution of 1979.  Skocpol’s first book attempted to delineate structural antecedents of revolutions and their outcomes derived from a comparative analysis of revolutions in France, Russia and China.  Insightful as it was, her argument nevertheless butted up against realities in uncomfortable ways.  The first instance of that was the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the same year Theda’s book was published.  It turns out, her predictions lacked in several ways.  And she was the first to draw out the implications.  She writes:
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Written by seansafford

June 19, 2009 at 8:10 pm

local action and military intransigence: how to take down don’t-ask-don’t-tell

It’s been seventeen years since Bill Clinton first proposed, and then backed away from, allowing gay and lesbian members of the US military to serve openly.  Since then, 20 of the 26 members of NATO—the US’s closest military and cultural allies—have changed their policies to permit gay men and women to serve.

Organizational theorists spend a good deal of time looking at why organizations adopt new policies and practices.  Conventional wisdom holds that practices either acquire legitimacy and diffuse within an organizational field or organizational leaders calculate costs and the benefits and act accordingly.  But the status of gay people has been normalized both in American society and among western societies broadly for some time now.  Moreover, the costs and benefits have been exhaustively researched and show no downside and strong upside.  Still, the policy stands in place.

This strikes me as the flip side of isomorphism: some organizations actively resist influence of their environment.  Org Theory has long been concerned with the question of organizational inertia.  But inertia is different from intransigence.  Inertia is passive.  Intransigence is defiant.

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Written by seansafford

May 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm