The Diffusion of Social Movements: Actors, Mechanisms, and Political Effects

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9780521130950: The Diffusion of Social Movements: Actors, Mechanisms, and Political Effects

It is widely recognized that social movements may spread - or "diffuse" - from one site to another. Such diffusion, however, is a complex and multidimensional process that involves different actors, networks, and mechanisms. This complexity has spawned a large body of literature on different aspects of the diffusion process, yet a comprehensive framework remains an elusive target. This book is a response to that need, and its framework focuses on three basic analytical questions. First, what is being diffused? This question directs attention to both the protest repertoires and interpretive frames that actors construct to define issues and mobilize political claims. Second, how does diffusion occur? This book focuses attention on the activist networks and communication channels that facilitate diffusion, including dialogue, rumors, the mass media, the internet, NGOs, and organizational brokers. Finally, what is the impact of diffusion on organizational development and shifts in the scale of contentious politics? This volume suggests that diffusion is not a simple matter of political contagion or imitation; rather, it is a creative and strategic process marked by political learning, adaptation, and innovation.

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Book Description:

This book explores how social movements spread, or "diffuse," from one site to another. It provides a comprehensive overview of different aspects of the diffusion process, explains how both protest tactics and mobilizing frames can be diffused, and analyzes the activist networks and communication channels that facilitate diffusion (including dialogue, rumors, the mass media, the internet, NGOs, and organizational brokers). Finally, it explores the impact of diffusion on movement organizations themselves and tries to understand how diffusion can alter the scale or scope of political conflict. The volume suggests that diffusion is not a simple matter of political contagion or imitation; rather, it is a creative and strategic process marked by political learning, adaptation, and innovation.

About the Author:

Rebecca Kolins Givan is Assistant Professor at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and has previously held positions at Cardiff Business School and the London School of Economics. She has published in the areas of healthcare work, trade unions, and comparative industrial relations.

Sarah A. Soule is the Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University and has previously taught at the University of Arizona and Cornell University. She is the author of Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility and a co-author (with David Snow) of A Primer on Social Movements. She has published papers on social movements, organizations, and political change in the United States.

Kenneth M. Roberts is Professor of Government and the Robert S. Harrison Director of the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell University. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and has previously taught at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Deepening Democracy? The Modern Left and Social Movements in Chile and Peru, along with other writings on populism, party systems, and political change in Latin America.

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