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Sociologists have turned to collective identity to fill gaps in resourece mobilization and political process accoutns of the emergence, trajectories, and impacts of social movements. Collective identity has been treated as an alternative to structurally given interests in accounting for the claims on behalf of which people mobilize, an alternative to selective incentives in understanding whey people participate, an alternative to instrumental rationality in explaining what tactical choices activists make, and an alternative to institutional reforms in assessing movements' impacts.
This article examines how structural conditions and social movement frames interact to influence mobilization and political consequences of social movements. Mobilization efforts benefit when movement framing is congruent with local structural conditions. This mobilization, in turn, produces political leverage for the movement through its capacity to deliver support of its members and adherents. Its political advantage may be offset, however, if another of its key framing activities, the construction of collective identity boundaries, alienates the broader population and stimulates a backlash. Such backlash is also intimately connected to structural conditions because its potential is a function of the characteristics of the local population - specifically, the proportion of the population alienated by the movement's boundary construction.
The most important impacts of social movements are often cultural, but the sheer variety of potential cultural impacts-from shifts in public opinion to new portrayals of a group on television to the metrics guiding funding in a federal agency-presents unique challenges to scholars. Rather than treating culture as a social sphere separate from politics and the economy, we conceptualize it as the ideas, values, and assumptions underpinning policies and practices in all spheres. We review recent research on movements' impacts on public opinion and everyday behavior; the media and popular culture; nonpolitical institutions such as science, medicine, and education; and politics. We focus on cultural impacts that have mattered for movements' constituencies and address why movements have had those impacts. We conclude with an agenda for future research, seeking greater connection between the literatures on movements and the literatures on the institutions that matter to movements.
Perspectives of discontent Reflecting on the Occupy movement, particularly Occupy Wall Street, this article begins by addressing two major questions: how are social movements understood by legal academics; and how do social movements engage with law?
Over the last few decades, there has been a dramatic growth in scholarship focused on the relationship between law and social movements. This growth has led to the development of a robust and vibrant network of scholars that has become increasingly integrated, to the point that law and social movements can now be considered a legitimate scholarly field of its own. This was not always the case. Law and social movement scholarship was once very segregated, with researchers working within disparate intellectual traditions, most notably with social movements and sociolegal scholars working within their respective fields with little overlap and “largely talking past each other” (Barclay, Jones, and Marshall 2011, 2). We see the increasing integration of law and social movements scholarship as a positive development for the field.
Research on the political consequences of social movements has recently accelerated. We take stock of this research with a focus on movements in democratic polities and the United States in comparative and historical perspective. Although most studies demonstrate the influence of the largest movements, this research has not addressed how much movements matter. As for the conditions under which movements matter, scholars have been revising their initial hypotheses that the strategies, organizational forms, and political contexts that aid mobilization also aid in gaining and exerting political influence. Scholars are exploring alternative arguments about the productivity of different actions and characteristics of movements and movement organizations in the varied political contexts and institutional settings they face. Researchers are also employing more innovative research designs to appraise these more complex arguments.
Forty years after Mathiesen wrote the ‘politics of abolition’ his work can enhance our understanding about radicalisation and de-radicalisation of social movements and terrorist groups. In ‘the politics of abolition’ Mathiesen explains the mechanism of two social factors that moderate the most contested goals and means of abolitionists groups. Due to these mechanisms, abolitionist movements often split into one rather moderate and one ‘radical’ current. The Islamist movement is an empirical example for the split the model predicts. Jihadism (e.g. al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups) represents the most radical form of contemporary Islamism, while nationalist Islamism (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood) and non-jihadi fundamentalism (mainstream Salafism) can be considered less radical because these currents either dismissed their abolitionist goals in favour of political integration, or reject terrorist violence as a means to enforce abolitionist goals. The communiqués and public statements of al-Qaeda give insight into the discourse within the Islamist movement. A sample of jihadi media is reviewed in this article as to compare al-Qaeda’s political positions with those of other Islamist movements and organizations.
The idea of democracy is being championed across the world, with some fifty new countries embracing this type of political system between 1974 and 2011 (Freedom House Anxious dictators, wavering democracies: global freedom under pressure, Freedom House, Washington, 2016). Simultaneously, however, dissatisfaction has grown due to the perceived incapacity of democracy to deal with collective problems, hence the necessity to reconfigure it and redraw some of its principles. This paper links the analysis of the recent evolution of democratic systems with the trajectory of socio-political conflicts and the changing features of contemporary terrorism. It examines, therefore, two intertwined phenomena, namely the radicalization of democracy and the radicalization of the other. It concludes by stressing that encouraging dissent and heeding contentious claims made by social movements may be one way of mitigating both types of radicalization. Embedded in the tradition of critical criminology, this paper attempts to demonstrate that only by outflanking conventional categories of analysis can the criminological community aspire to grasp such thorny contemporary phenomena.
This article focuses on the transnational diffusion of social movement ideas. How do social movements in one country or region of the world diffuse to another country or region? How do social movement participants learn about other movements and ideas in faraway countries and mobilize around these same ideas? What are the channels and mechanisms of diffusion? These are the research questions the article addresses. I draw on the theoretical literature on social movements and recent research on diffusion to explore these questions. The discussion is applied to two recent cases of diffusion: The diffusion of the Transition movement from the United Kingdom to the United States and the diffusion of the solidarity economy movement from Latin America, France, and Canada to the United States. I argue that a combination of relational, nonrelational, and mediated diffusion explain the spread of the transition and solidarity economy movements.