Call for Submissions: CBSM at ASA 2020

Collective Behavior and Social Movements Refereed Roundtables

E. Colin Ruggero, Community College of Philadelphia; ecolinr@gmail.com

Current Scholarship on Activism, Contention, Social Movements

This session seeks scholarship on a broad range of scholarly questions regarding resistance, activism, contentious politics and social movements. Of particular interest are studies that cut across social movement cases to examine broad themes across social movement organizations and sectors.

Catherine Corrigall-Brown, University of British Columbia; corrigall.brown@ubc.ca

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Panel Summaries: CBSM at ASA 2019

ASA 2019: Thinking About Abeyance in the 21st Century

Nancy Whittier, Smith College and Jo Reger, Oakland University

This session, organized by Jo Reger and presided over by Nancy Whittier, aimed to examine how the foundational concept of social movement abeyance functions and is relevant in the 21st century. Articulated by Verta Taylor and Leila Rupp in their investigation of the “doldrums” of the women’s movement in the early 20th century, abeyance has been applied to multiple social movement contexts to illustrate how movements survive in period of low mobilization. The invited panel of Alison Dahl Crossley, Fabio Rojas, and Suzanne Staggenborg explored the transformation of the abeyance concept over time and considered its relevance in today’s context of rapid social movement mobilization. Their comments were followed by reflections and discussion from Rupp and Taylor and a lively discussion with audience members. Some of the panelists’ core points were as follows:

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Highlander’s Mission: Social Justice

by Aldon Morris, Northwestern University

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

The historically important Highlander Research and Education Center was deliberately attacked. On March 29, 2019, an early morning fire destroyed its executive office building along with historic documents, speeches, artifacts and memorabilia stored there. Although an investigation of the arson continues, all indications point to a white supremacy group as the perpetrator.

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How “More Cowbell, More Cowbell” Worked! Disruptive Tactics and the Outcome of the UIUC Labor Protest

by Amirhossein Teimouri, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

In late February 2018, I found myself joining fellow graduate students in a strike on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The strike at the UIUC was a rare opportunity for a student-led labor movement to rise against the corporatization of the public education. Although this was a campus-wide movement without nation-wide repercussions, participants and activists integrated the movement to a broader nation-wide public education unrest.

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Social Media in a Controversial Student Election: New Frontiers for Political Strife

by Anson Au, University of Toronto

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Carol (name changed to protect her identity) ran for student president at one of the largest universities in Canada. Her platform was dressed up in the usual rhetoric for campaigns in student elections: fighting for more resources for students, ensuring students’ voices were heard and represented, and so on. But Carol was also vocal in advocating for the freedom of an ethnic group in China, making the controversial claim that the territory should be politically autonomous and separated from China and that the cultural history of this ethnic group was so distinct that they deserved independence.

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Students vs. Tuition Hikes

by Didem Türkoğlu, UNC Chapel Hill

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

Students protest tuitions. Perhaps more so than ever. The photos from the protests in Chile, Canada, and South Africa come to mind quickly. Then there are less globally covered student protests in Germany and Turkey. What makes these student protests so significant? In a forthcoming special issue in Current Sociology, scholars focus on case studies from the global north and the global south to provide answers to this question.

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Student Activism Shaping the Preservation of Confederate Monuments at UNC-Chapel Hill

by Emily H.A. Yen, Trinity College

from Critical Mass, Volume 44, Issue 1

The violent death of Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right rally lead by torch-carrying White nationalists protesting the proposed removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia shifted the national discourse around White supremacy and the public display of Confederate monuments. Confederate monuments are particularly controversial since the vast majority of them were built after the Supreme Court upheld the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision (Southern Poverty Law Center 2019) and were a way for White southerners to venerate an alternative narrative of the origins of the Civil War and assert racial dominance in the Jim Crow South. The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s fundraising of the 8-foot bronze statue on University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) campus and its dedication by Julian Carr, a UNC Trustee and Confederate veteran who supported the Ku Klux Klan, in 1913 reflects this larger movement (Farzan 2018). The statue known as “Silent Sam” has been a focal point of recent campus debates around racial justice, White supremacy, and free speech, but generations of UNC students have been protesting its presence on campus for over 50 years. The most recent wave of student activism led to the statue’s physical toppling in August 2018 and spurred an ongoing debate around the preservation of its symbolic legacy.

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Hints of the Coming of the Women’s Marches

By Jo Reger, Oakland University

As someone who studies the contemporary U.S. feminist movement, I should not have been surprised by the global outpouring of protests on January 21, 2017. After all, you could feel the rumblings coming during the Clinton-Trump campaign. The outright misogyny of Donald Trump’s casual evaluation of women, in contrast to the empowered women rhetoric of Hillary Clinton. Emotions were running high, insults were being flung, and once agreeable neighbors began to argue with each other’s choice of yard signs.

But stepping back from the heat of those moments, there were seeds planted for the global spread of women’s marches long before Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton threw their hats in the electoral ring.  Drawing on the old adage “hindsight is twenty-twenty,” I offer a few examples that offered hints of the women’s marches to come:

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Considering Contention in Trumptimes

By David S. Meyer, University of California, Irvine

For those of us who study protest movements, to paraphrase Dickens, the Trump presidency represents both the best of times and the worst of times. For scholars of political contention, Trump’s election immediately presents an upsurge of activism across many social movements that offer us massive amounts of empirical material and no shortage of analytical challenges. Like the paleontologist visiting Jurassic Park, those of us who write about movements can watch our preferred theories of contention being shredded—or not—in real time. Public attention to protest has also surged, and journalists, activists, and neighbors are more likely to express interest in the stuff that occupies our imagination most of the time. Regular people are paying attention!

The sense of urgency and possibility is exhilarating, but there is a downside: I have to live here. Donald Trump represents an urgent and unusual threat to democratic institutions in general, and in particular, a direct threat to the pursuit of science and the institutions which support it.

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