Report from the Mayer N. Zald Award Committee

Our committee, including David Cunningham, Jo Reger, and Hiroe Saruya, last year’s winner, is pleased to recognize some well deserving honorees for the first Mayer Zald Award competition. We gave out two honorable mentions in addition to the award. The high amount of recognition is in direct proportion to the number and quality of the entrants. We received 54 papers, likely to be an all-time record. We evaluated each paper based on the following criteria: development of theory, testing of theory, importance of question, theoretical innovation, methodological innovation, quality of data, quality of data analysis, clarity of reasoning and thinking, and synthesis of literature.

We agreed unanimously to confer the award upon Mohammad Ali Kadivar (North Carolina, Chapel Hill), for his paper, “Opportunities, Perception Profiles, and Alliances in the Iranian Reform Movement, 1997-2005.”

This paper asks an important question about the conditions under which social movement alliances and coalitions are likely. It makes an innovative theoretical contribution by reviewing the literature on U.S. and global case studies and identifying the different approaches to politics—strategic models— that movement actors might engage in. These “perception profiles” in turn serve as bases for potential coalition formation. This conceptualization represents a significant advance on current explanations of alliance-formation and maintenance. Drawing on extensive newspaper data across different phases of Iranian reform movement politics, moreover, the paper appraises this model of alliance formation through content analysis, with important attention to alternative hypotheses that might render the baseline relationship between perception profiles and coalitions spurious. That is, these similarities in perception helped to explain alliance formation in different phases of Iranian politics better than did state repression or the organization’s goals. All in all, the committee found this paper to be an outstanding achievement and a very worthy standard bearer for the inaugural Mayer N. Zald Award.

Two papers earned honorable mention awards: Tarun Banerjee (SUNY , Stony Brook), “Media, Movements, and Mobilization: Tea Party Protests in the U.S., 2009-2010” and Daniel S. Blocq (Wisconsin, Madison), “Formation of Armed Self- Defense Groups during Civil Wars.”

Overall, we found the quality of work was very high indeed, with several of the entries accepted for publication at top journals. The future of the section seems to be in good hands. We regret that we could not recognize more of this excellent work.