Recognition Struggles and Process Theories of Social Movements - Carol Mueller


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Recognition Struggles and Process Theories of Social Movements - Carol Mueller

  1. 1. Recognition Struggles and Process Theories of Social Movements Carol Mueller Arizona State University WestPaper prepared for the workshop on “Recognition Struggles” organized by BarbaraHobson at the University of Stockholm. Summer, 2001.Introduction The present collection offers an unusual opportunity to examine processtheories of social movements in light of a rich diversity of chapters on “recognitionstruggles.” The present theorizing of recognition struggles represent sustained
  2. 2. attention to one of the central concerns of social movement theory: the frequentlyadversarial process of gaining and losing recognition for identities in the course of awide range of collective actions. That most of the “action” recorded here shows theintersection of the discursive and the political serves to expand social process theoriesof social movements further in the incorporation of identity framing and construction.Thus, the concept of collective identities represents a theoretical bridge between thetwo forms of theorizing. The chapters encompass a diversity of mobilizations thatoccur as identities become the objects as well as the means of struggle. In the language of social movement process theories, recognition strugglesconcern the intersection of collective identities and the field of collective action. Yet,social movement theory has had far more to say about “struggles” (collective action/contentious politics) than how they are aided or hindered by recognition of theidentities of participants, beneficiaries, interested bystanders and adversaries.Although most theorists will agree that the framing of identities is a necessary butpotentially hazardous task for any social movement, there is considerabledisagreement about the degree to which existing, “natural” or inherited identities formthe basis of mobilization, solidarity and continuity for struggles over time much lessrecent concerns about collective identities as the object of struggle. Current socialmovement theory has not resolved the issue of whether the role of collective identitiesin a process of mobilization is one of rediscovery of traits suppressed by a system ofcultural and political domination or is it primarily the result of a creative processbased in the ongoing interpretive work of the movement (della Porta and Diani, 1999:94). Most likely, it is both, but how much of each and under what circumstances? Thislack of resolution does not imply that collective identities have not figured incontemporary theorizing, but that there is not a strong consensus from which toapproach the contributions in the present volume. This is, to some extent, a result ofthe particular way in which issues of identity entered contemporary process theoriesof social movements. European scholars were the first to insist on the centrality of collectiveidentities to the study of social movements (Pizzorno, 1978; Touraine 1981; Melucci1985, 1989, 1995, 1996), although, among contemporary theorists, Tilly’s concept of“catnet” (1978) had recognized the foundation of collective action in social networkscharacterized by categorical meanings. In the 1970s and 1980s most North Americanstudents of social movements had embraced the assumptions of Olson’s (1963)rational actor model and cast off questions of meaning and symbolism as dangerouslyassociated with the irrational assumptions embedded in mass society and much ofcollective behavior theory (McPhail, 1996). Preoccupied with questions of why socialmovements succeed or fail, they developed resource mobilization (McCarthy andZald, 1973, 1977) and political opportunity paradigms (McAdam, 1982; Tarrow,1989). The European challenge, combined with an increasingly post-modernacademic environment, moved North Americans toward a “cultural turn” (Morris andMueller, 1992; Larana, Johnston and Gusfield, 1994; Johnston and Klandermans,1995) which has resulted in increasingly integrated approaches to the studies of socialmovements (della Porta and Diani, 1999; McAdam, Tarrow, and Tilly, forthcoming). The “discovery” of collective identities by U.S. theorists proceeded slowlyfrom its origins in European “new social movement theory”. It has been introducedinto North American work through local traditions in social psychology, symbolic 1
  3. 3. interactionism, and framing, broadly conceived as social construction. Theseapproaches place a major emphasis on systems of meaning negotiated between theindividual and various collective levels of social movements. They examine theconstructio n of identities as one of the ongoing processes of collective action. Thefocus has been primarily on collective identities generated through collective actionrather than the great variety of antecedent identities such as gender, ethnicity, nation,religion, and/or class. Like its European predecessors in new social movement theory,the U.S. approach has focused almost exclusively on identities created in toto withinsocial movements. With the increasing attention to mobilizations organized aroundantecedent identities in the last ten years, theorizing has begun to reflect moresystematically the problematics of recognition struggles as they are understood in thepresent volume. While incorporating much of social constructionism, more recentwork reflects additional issues that arise from mobilizations based on identities thathave at least some portion of their origins in the history, myths, symbols, andcollective memories associated with antecedent social locations. My purpose here isto focus on the issues raised by four of the major theorists (or theory teams) workingon issues of collective identity in Europe and North America and examine the way inwhich their issues are expanded by the studies in this volumeIdentization and the Construction Social Movement Identities Alberto Melucci. Of the Europeans working on an interpretation ofcontemporary social movements through collective identities, Alberto Melucci hasbeen the most influential in bringing the concept to international attention and themost persistent in insisting on the “newness” of these movements (1989, 1996). Thetwo are closely interconnected. Based on his field theoretic approach to research inItaly, Melucci’s concept of collective identities is all encompassing. For him, thecollective identity is the movement and the movement itself is process. The process isthat of becoming a social actor, of becoming a playaer on the stage of world history.At one point, he recommends that the process be indicated by the verb, identizationrather than the noun (1995: ). The verb represents the process.While not denyingthat movements operate in an environment of constraints and resources, he is mostimpressed by the indeterminacy of the movement as a social actor that lacks thecoherence its ideologues and antagonists attribute to it. His understanding ofcollective identity as a verb reflects this highly contingent status. The identity consists of the contingent definitions of means, ends and fields ofaction that exist in a state of tension arising from a system of social relationships aswell as systems of meaning. Tensions are accentuated in a time of crisis when theunity of the actor is tested and people fight not only for concrete and symbolicobjects, but also for “the possibility of recognizing themselves and being recognizedas subjects of their action” (1995: 48). Through collective identities, social actorsrecognize each other, are recognized by others, set boundaries, determine criteria formembership, select members and provide continuity over time. Melucci has also argued for over twenty years that because these movementsare not based in traditional identities of class or ethnicity, but rest on opposition tonew forms of domination, the processes of collective identities are uniquely importantand constitute (if successful) major outcomes of social movements by creating newsocial actors. Contending that contemporary movements mark a historical departure in 2
  4. 4. the extent to which they target civil society, make claims that are largely directedtoward cultural systems, and recruit adherents from constituencies where socialmovement participation lacks the solidarity of working class or ethnic communities,he takes issue with resource mobilization and political process approaches that ignorethe expressive outcomes of social movements, most notably the creation of viablecollective identities. Systematic attention to collective identities came to North America largelythrough Melucci’s work, stimulated by Jean Cohen’s special issue of Social Researchin 1985. Although many have disagreed about the “newness” of contemporarymovements, his work has been widely appreciated in both Europe and the UnitedStates. Attention to the processes by which identities are created through collectiveaction marked a major departure in the mid-1980s. Despite the major preoccupationof U.S. social movement scholars with resource mobilization and political processissues during the 1970s and early 1980s, both social psychologists and scholars fromsymbolic interaction traditions were adapting Ervin Goffman’s (1974) FrameAnalysis to help understand how participants in social movements create meanings tointerpret their situation (see particularly, Gamson, et al. 1982; Klandermans, 1984;Ferree and Miller, 1985; Snow, et al. 1986). Soon this approach was joined with theemerging interest in collective identities. The two principle scholarly groups here areDavid Snow, Robert Benford and their colleagues concerned with the framing tasksfaced by social movement organizations and Gamson and his colleagues working onmedia framing of social movements and issue campaigns. Where Melucci’sidentization encompasses the movement’s very existence as a social actor, NorthAmerican scholars have isolated more delimited characteristics of movements withthe concept. Snow and Benford. Snow, Benford and their colleagues argue that a frame is“an interpretive schemata that simplifies and condenses the ‘world out there’ byselectively punctuating and encoding objects, situations, events, experiences, andsequences of actions within one’s present or past environments” (Snow and Benford,1992: 137). As they have elaborated their framing paradigm, they identify three tasksfaced by social movement organizations: diagnostic framing that defines a conditionas problematic and in need of amelioration as a result of human agency; prognosticframing that outlines a program for redress of problematic conditions, includingtargets, strategies and tactics; and motivational framing that keynotes vocabularies ofmotive to activate participation (Hunt, Benford and Snow, 1994). Diagnostic andprognostic framing impute motives and identities to antagonists or targets of changewhile motivational framing involves the construction of motives and identities ofprotagonists. All three forms of framing involve the construction and negotiation ofcollective identities. As an interactive interpretive process, framing is thought of interms of rhetorical strategies working recursively to influence future courses of actionwhile at the same time reflecting interpretations of previous actions. Within the context of these rhetorical framing strategies, most of their effort isfocused on differentiating identity fields for the three types of social mo vementactors. Although most work on collective identities focuses on protagonists, Hunt etal. expand the scope of the concept to encompass imputed identities for the majoractors involved in social movements as framed by protagonists. That is, protagonistsconstruct identities for their adversaries as well as the bystanders they would like to 3
  5. 5. recruit or neutralize. Their interesting idea of an identity “field” conveys theimpression of a multiplicity of similarly situated actors, but the concept isundeveloped. Like most students of collective identities (see also Taylor, 1989; Taylor andWhittier, 1992, 1995), Snow and his colleagues argue that boundary markers andsymbols of continuity are critical for framing of identities. Boundary markers aremeanings that delineate the field of movement protagonists and their supporters fromadversaries by drawing on appropriate cognitive and evaluative cultural materialsinterpreted through the lens of relevant events. For the religious, peace and anti-nuclear move ments they study, Hunt et al. demonstrate convincingly that theorganizations’ tactics, strategies and targets are influenced by collective identitiesassumed by or ascribed to the three types of social actors. Because protagonists have acertain self-conception (ie. identity) some courses of action are open while others areclosed. Similarly, the identities they impute to their adversaries and to bystandersinfluence their own choices of tactics and strategies. This emphasis on the strategicconcerns of social movement organizations by Snow and his colleagues parallelsresource mobilization and political process foci on the strategic preoccupations ofsocial movements, particularly through organizations as actors. Although theprocesses Snow et al. describe is recursive, the types of movements they study fail toinclude the role of antecedent identities. Gamson. Based in a very different research agenda on the media framing ofissues and movements, Gamson (1992b, 1995) also discusses identities in terms offraming, but is the first of the theorists here to incorporate identities that precedecollective action. He argues that “The locus of collective identity is cultural; it ismanifested through the language and symbols by which it is publicly expressed. Weknow a collective identity through the cultural icons and artifacts displayed by thosewho embrace it. It is manifested in styles of dress, language, and demeanor” (1992:60). He begins with Snow et al.’s (1986) concept of collective action frames whichhe characterizes in terms of injustice frames, agency, and collective identities. Thefirst refers to the framing of issues addressed by a social movement and the secondand third to the movement as social actor. Of the three, collective identity refers to theprocess of defining the “we” who take action in opposition to some “they” who havedifferent interests or values (1995b: 99). Like Hunt et al., collective identities forGamson are adversarial; “we” is partially defined by opposition to some “they” evenwhen the adversary is a cultural form or social practice. While Snow and his colleagues look at the framing of identity fields fordiverse actors, Gamson includes antecedents by differentiating the collective identitiesof protagonists in terms of three embedded layers: organization, movement andsolidary group based on social location (1995). The first layer refers to the identity ofmovement organizations such as unions, affinity groups, consciousness-raisinggroups, national organizations, etc., although any single individual may belong tomore than one organization within a social movement, each with a somewhat differentidentity. The second level is the identity of the movement as a totality like the peacemovement, women’s movement, environmental movement, etc. Finally, he refers tothe identity associated with an individual participant’s social location, for example, as 4
  6. 6. worker, woman, African, or all three. The three layers of identity may be differentlyvalued by an individual. Gamson gives the example of many working-classAmericans who identify with “working people” (their social location) but not withtheir union or with a “labor movement” they perceive as historically dated. The mostsuccessful social movements, he argues, provide powerful links between theparticipant’s sense of self and all three layers of movement identity. Because his focus is on the role of the media, Gamson’s research examinesthe imperfect way that media convey the three layers of identity to external audiencesincluding allies, adversaries, observers and targets of action. Protagonists’ styles ofdress, language, demeanor and modes of discourse provide material for answering thequestion, “who are these people,” to Hunt et al.’s general audience, but they aremediated and transformed in the process. Because Gamson’s (ideally) embeddedidentities reflect social location as well as the movement and its organizations, hecomes closer to reflecting the tasks of recognition struggles addressed here. (Meluccinote) Della Porta and Diani. In the latest integration of European and Americatraditions for studying social movements as process, della Porta and Diani (1999),validate this cross-fertilization drawing on the U.S. tradition of framing and socialconstruction and the European tradition emphasizing Melucci’s concept of collectiveidentities as process or identization. Placing the processes of identity production,maintenance and revitalization at the center of their social movement analysis, theyfollow Hunt et al., in enumerating the same three sets or fields of collective identitiesand in arguing that boundary construction is the major mechanism through whichaction “constitutes” identities. Based on Lofland’s work on movement culture (1995, pp. 192ff), they arguethat identities are developed and sustained through models of behavior, objects andnarratives combined in specific ritual forms as well as artifacts, events and places thathave symbolic significance for sustaining an identity. Identities are formed andreformed through reconfiguration of these cultural elements, frequently in public, butin some cases ritually enacted for the internal life of the group. These ritualexperiences are particularly important for casting and recasting individual identitie s(see also Taylor and Whittier, 1995). Through these processes of meaningconstruction, identities activate and reflect relationships of trust and antagonism aswell as providing the major sources of continuity linking experiences and events overtime and space for both individual participants and social movement organizations. Having argued that the process of constituting identities is also theprocess of collective action through which movements seek to achieve their goals,della Porta and Diani get to the crux of the matter for present purposes. Namely, howare antecedent identities incorporated into the identities of social movements? Tostart, they argue that “The identity of a movement almost inevitably ends up beingdescribed by its militants as ‘natural’” (1999: 93). Through collective action, peoplediscover or rediscover their likenesses considered as a result of sharing a condition ofdeprivation. Thus, preexisting identities, like nationalism, are reworked for movementservice in terms of both the past and the present through the course of acting together(pp. 94-95). Although elements of the past (national, ethnic or gender histories, forexample) are incorporated into the new identity, new elements must be added to 5
  7. 7. warrant a sense of urgency and collective action. Because identity construction is anadversarial process, however, antagonists are at pains to demonstrate either theartificiality of the current construction or to denigrate the original identity. Indeedscholars such as Anderson (1983) and Hobsbawm (1991) claim that ethno-nationalistmovements draw on myths of a largely non-existent past in the course of “inventingtradition” (Hobsbawm and Ranger, 1984). And finally, della Porta and Diani find that, instead of a single homogenizingidentity, there is instead, a “… multiplicity of identities and allegiances amongmilitants and movement groups….” (p. 100). Only rarely is a dominant identity ableto integrate all of the others, and even then not in a hierarchical structure. Instead,“What is cursorily termed ‘movement identity’ is, in reality, largely a contingentproduct of negotiations between collective images produced by various actors andvarious organizations” (p. 101). This multiplicity leads to what della Porta and Diana(1999) refer to as the paradoxes of collective identities (p. 86): (1) identities provide asource of continuity over time while, at the same time, they are subject to constantredefinition: (2) identities provide participants with an organizing principle fo rdefining allies and adversaries, but these alliance systems are themselves subject toconstant negotiation and redefinition; and (3) as identities are linked with values andsymbols, they seem close to emotional lines of action; yet, many scholars invokeidentities as a way of explaining collective action in rational terms. Della Porta and Diani’s integrative social process approach to the study ofsocial movements brings us full circle back to Melucci and to the centrality thatidentities occupy in his work. Not without cause, Tarrow (1998) refers to AlbertoMelucci’s Challelnging Codes: Collective Action in the Information Age (1996) as the“locus classicus” of collective identity theory (p. 224, f 14). For Melucci, more thanany other theorist, the construction of collective identities is the major work of socialmovements. In it he sees the major task of explanation: “The empirical unity of asocial movement should be considered as a result rather than a starting point, a fact tobe explained rather than evidence” (1995: 43). To take any other position, he warns, isto accept a monolithic and metaphysical idea of collective actors.Identization and Recognition Struggles The present volume offers a rich collection of studies illuminating andextending the preliminary work of social process theorists on collective identities.While rarely demonstrating the strategic uses of identities by social movementorganizations, they nonetheless, give compelling evidence of the processual nature ofconstructing, maintaining and revitalizing identities in the course of social movementsand issue campaigns. Geographically dispersed, they encompass an intriguing set ofstudies ranging from the center to the periphery of major industrial democracies. Thediversity of their academic discourse offers perspectives that are alternately historical,comparative, and transnational. And, despite a central concern with issues of genderand sexual identities, they encompass multiple social locations that have become bothsubject and object of “identization.” In using these cases to expand social process theories of collective identities, Iwill start with issues on which there has been considerable consensus and move toconcerns that have been brought to light by the unusual opportunity to compare social 6
  8. 8. movement identities across different societies and historic periods. Social processtheorists, as well as the current authors, place at the center of their work processes ofboundary creation and maintenance in adversarial environments, the role of identitiesin providing social movement continuity over time and space, and, less frequently, therole of political institutions in supporting some identities and denying others. Likemost of the social movement literature, the authors here find that boundaries aresustained and transformed largely through adversarial relationships. However,previous literature has failed to indicate the lack of autonomy that most socialmovements face as they attempt to create identities in adversarial environments. Thecurrent papers address the question of continuity in forms of collective representation,but due to the complexity of political cultures, coupled with processes of diffusionfrom one cultural system to another, they find that discontinuity in identities isperhaps more likely than continuity when negotiations occur over space as well astime. Transnational and comparative perspectives point up the interpretive role ofmultiple modes of communication. And, finally, many chapters indicate a central rolefor formal political institutions in ratifying and/or transforming identity claims thathave seldom received the attention warranted. I select these issues for individualattention while recognizing that they are closely interconnected. Boundary Maintenance/Adversarial Relationships. Most of the chapters hereexamine the standing or recognition of some delimited category of people indicatingsocial location and/or a political identity including that of social movements. ForFerree, it is “women” in the U.S. and (primarily) the former West Germany, forValiente, it is “mothers” against drugs in Spain, for Szalai it is the Roma in Hungary,for Williams it is the black and migrant women of Europe, and for Klein and Kulick,it is “travestis” in Brazil, for Hobson, it is differences in the recognition of “women”as well as “feminists” in Sweden and Ireland. In each case, a politically un-recognizedor mis-recognized identity (in Fraser’s terms) is associated with a powerless or quasi-powerless position (see Lipsky, 1968) denying relevant actors the capacity to addresscritical redistributive needs: of domestic violence, of abortion and reproductive rightsand support, of services for drug-dependent youth, of suffrage and political inclusion,and of police violence and discrimination. As Lake points out, “Recognition strugglesare provoked by domination, and the perceived nature of the domination shapes andsharpens the resulting assertion of identity.” That is, the assertion of identity iscoupled with claims for redistribution. Even in Lake’s discussion of fissioningidentities in Australia, conflict over who is authentically Aboriginese involvesmaterial goods like scholarships and foreign travel. The political nature of the failureof recognition and material (redistributive) consequences is clear. And how is a challenging identity constituted? For most authors, it is adiscursive representation with material consequences. Or, as Hobson puts it, these arestruggles based on discursive resources played out on “symbolic terrains.” Forinstance: Williams’ discussion of the Black and Migrant Women’s Project Report bythe European Forum of Left Feminists, Hobson’s exploration of Swedish laws onhome care and widow’s pensions, the conventions, campaigns, referenda andinitiatives that characterized multi-ethnic, gender and political struggles in turn-of-the-century Oklahoma (Sainsbury), the translations and popular magazines inHungary discussed by Gal, academic monographs, journal articles and evennewspaper ads in Australia (Lake), Ferree’s account of media discourse on courtdecisions and legislation in the U.S. and Germany, and state policies as well as 7
  9. 9. popular myths and legends of the Roma in Hungary (Szalai). For women in Ireland(Hobson) the boundary making process has been one of continually challenging themale breadwinner norm that has sacrificed women’ economic and political rights.Only rarely are the representations of identity dramatized in practices so rich insymbolism as the travestis’ “scandals” so vividly described by Klein and Kulick. Yet, the forms of representation only modestly attest to the lack of control thatprotagonists exert over their identities. Williams’ black and migrant women cannotspeak for themselves but must rely, instead, on Left feminists to bring their casebefore the European Women’s Lobby who in turn have consultative status to theEuropean Union. Similarly, the Roma in Hungary have little control over the terms inwhich their identity is constituted in public policy or popular culture. And, although“women” in Germany have standing to be recognized in the national media onabortion issues, they cannot decide the terms in which the abortion debate takes place(Ferree). Women in the U.S. have less standing in the press, but more influence overthe terms of debate—as long as it is constructed from familiar discourse on individualrights. Hungarian translations of Western feminist writing is subject to the capriciouswhims of a system of clientelism in terms of what gets translated and from whatperspective. Both native Americans and African Americans in frontier Oklahomamake the difficult choice of embracing an identity based on standards of “civilization”established by the dominant Euro-centric culture, making it difficult to point out theinjustices that flow from that culture (Sainsbury). Women in Sweden may haveachieved the ideal society as worker citizens, but identities as wife and mother aresuspect as the basis for public policy (Hobson). Travestis may scandalize clients byproclaiming their sexual proclivities to the world, but they may also get killed in theprocess. Surprisingly, it is these scandalous, but risky, performances of Braziliantravestis that stand at one end of an autonomy dimension compared, at the other end,to Roma in Hungary or black, ethnic minority and migrant women in Europe whohave little control over the representation of their identities. The lack of autonomy that many protagonists experience in controlling theiridentity portrayal is just one reflection of the degree to which they are embedded inadversarial and mediated relationships of long standing. Identity challenges spring notonly, as expected, from targets of opposition, but frequently from allies and otheractors sharing at least one salient identity. In Hungary, the Roma are at the bottom ofthe ethnic hierarchy in terms of recognition and services from the state, but amongthemselves, they are also divided in terms of the “struggles and mutual prejudices”between Beás, Oláh and Romungro groups in terms of who is a real Gypsy.Travestis, in Brazil, are alternately celebrated for their beauty and vilified for theambiguity of their sexual identity, not only by police, politicians, and the Church, but,to less extent, by gays and lesbians with whom they make common cause on someissues (Klein and Kulick). Black, migrant and ethnic minority women in Europe notonly lack political standing to speak for themselves, but they fail to receive afavorable hearing from the white, middle class women who make up the EuropeanWomen’s Lobby (Williams). In Australia, claims by white women that they havebeen ignored in a male-centered history of their country are challenged by women ofAfrican ancestry whose claims are contested, in turn, by Aboriginal women. Szalaisays for the Hungarian Gypsies, “It is obvious that the striking of a balance, therepresentation and institutionalization of the values of identity, are the most pressinginternal affairs facing the Roma community in our time.” 8
  10. 10. For Lake, these are the “dialogic implications of recognition struggles” wherecategories of identity are destablized and, in the case of feminists, delimited.Similarly, in rejecting a politics of difference, Gal argues that, feminists must accept apolitics of particularity as opposed to claims of universal inclusiveness. Otherwise,like Sainsbury, Gal finds that “In every assertion of difference we can find theimplicit homogenization of those newly identified as a category of the different.” InOklahoma, the division between “Indian” and “settler” subdivides into “civilized” and“savage” Indians versus European, African, Asian and Hispanic settlers. CivilizedIndians are differentiated between…… Before the Civil War, African settlers werefurther subdivided into free and slave. For the suffrage movement, gender furtherdivided all of these. Yet, the threat of “infinite recursivity” identified by Gal is played out in thereal world of politics and movement mobilization by social actors who seeopportunities and liabilities in claiming or repudiating identities. The challengesdescribed here by actors who are similarly situated reflects the inevitable overlap ofunderrepresented identities among those who have traditionally occupied relativelypowerless social locations. It is rarely the case that mis-representation andmaldistribution are unidimensional in terms of identities. Women, for instance, haveethnic, religious, nationality, class and political identities as well. For each of theseidentities, the individual receives variable degrees of recognition and distributiverewards. In the past, social movements created identities such as “feminist” or“socialist” to subsume these diverse sources of meaning for the individual. Despite itslimitations, the identity of the gender neutral worker citizen in Sweden, created by thelabor movement in the 19th century, has been, perhaps, one of the most successful andflexible in accommodating a multiplicity of changing policy issues and historicalcircumstances. Such all-embracing identities have usually succeeded, however, onlywhen the recognition and distributive rewards on other identities was relatively higher(such as white, middle class feminists) or, alternatively, when encapsulation of amovement (Zald and Ash, 1966) precluded action on more than one identity(terrorists, sects). Identity as the Basis of Social Movement Continuity. Theorists such asMelucci (1987, 1996), della Porta and Diani (2000) have argued that social movementidentities are a major, if not the major source of social movement continuity.However, many of the studies described here document a remarkable variability in thenegotiation and construction of identities over time and space. Continuity of identitiesseems to be associated with polar extremes of success and failure in mobilization.Hobson’s discussion of the Swedish “worker citizen” is illustrative of successfulmobilization as is Ferree’s description of “women’s” increasing media standing on theabortion issue in Germany and the United States over a considerably shorter timespan. Women’s on-going mobilizations in both countries around the abortion issuehas enhanced their media standing which serves as a source of continuity reflectingthe movement’s success. Hobson’s study of the framing of women’s issues in Sweden demonstrates theoverwhelming success of the early framing of identities legitimated in terms of classby the labor movement of the late 19th century. Looking at women’s politicalpositioning over the course of the 20th century, she shows the “path dependent” nature 9
  11. 11. of identity framing for women within this political discourse. After gaining suffragein 1920, most women in Sweden were assimilated into the Social Democratic Party onthe basis of a gender neutrality that had characterized the discourse of the early labormovement and continued throughout most of the century despite the fact that manyissues of concern to women could not be accommodated. Recent repudiation ofwidow’s pensions and allowances for women to care for their own children in thehome have continued to validate a universal, class-based identity for women, likemen, as workers, parents and citizens. Contemporary feminist mobilizations haveserved to increase women’s political role in the government and the party, but it hasbeen difficult to address the concerns of immigrant women, women’s unpaid workand their low pay in service occupations. It would appear that electoral success, whichinstitutionalizes adversarial relationships, can serve to provide the continuity of asocial movement identity over the long term. The second set of issues involves a more traditional set of concerns, thedifficulties in creating, maintaining, and defending a social movement identity overtime and space in a hostile environment and from external challenges. Gal, forinstance, describes the difficulties of creating a “feminist” identity in Central EastEurope after the end of state socialism. She points out how politically marginalfeminists responded to charges of “alien” or “foreign” influences by searching fororigins in the history of late 19th and early 20th century Hungary. Unfortunately forcontemporary Hungarian feminists, these historical excavations have unearthed afurther charge of “alien” as early suffrage campaigns for women have been linked toattempts to win the vote for ethnic minorities. Even the identity of “mothers,” whichserved as the basis for mobilization in Spain, underwent continual challenge as theysought to support their drug-dependent children. At first they banded together forsupport and then to transfer some of their respectability as mothers to their childrenwho were characterized as criminals. As Valiente describes it, their “standing” wasquestioned again by university professionals who challenged their expertise in treatingdrug dependency. First, identities are inevitably linked to political programs that representexperiences and interests that serve some people better than others within the categoryembraced. The discussion above on the contested nature of boundaries indicates justhow difficult it is to maintain the authenticity of a movement identity over timeagainst challenges from within the category (woman, homosexual). These internalchallenges to authenticity, so richly described in the chapters here, deserve a moreprominent place in social movement theories. Paradoxically, identities of victimized categories of people seem to offer themost continuity in the studies here as others generate social movements on theirbehalf. The Roma in Hungary, described by Szalai, are the objects of othersmobilization and policy making as are the black and migrant women on whose behalfLeft feminist lobby the European Union (Williams). While movement theorists havepreviously indicated the importance of identity construction for protagonists,antagonists, and bystander publics, the papers here indicate that the objects of socialmovements’ attentions or their beneficiaries also have social identities that should beconsidered. 10
  12. 12. Political Context and the Construction of Identities. The role of politicalinstitutions in social movement theory has been largely centered on the role of states,political parties, and, rarely, supra- national entities in opening and closing politicalopportunities (Tilly, 1978; McAdam, 1982; Tarrow, 1994, 1998; McAdam, McCarthyand Zald,1996). In a critique published in the mid-1990s, Gamson and Meyer arguethat “political opportunity” had become a sponge concept soaking up virtually everyaspect of the social movement environment with the result that it ultimately explainednothing at all (1996). For present purposes, the importance of their critique is itsemphasis on the fact that “Political opportunities are subject to framing processes andare often the source of internal movement disagreements about appropriate actionstrategies” (p. 276). Yet, in their rendering of political opportunity structures asranging from volatile to stable and embracing cultural elements from myths andnarratives to issue cultures and media frames, they neglect the role of collectiveidentities. While indicating that movements embrace a range of actors, they fail tonote that it is collective identities that distinguish these actors. While they embraceprocess approaches to political opportunity, they fail to recognize the centrality ofnegotiating collective identities. The current volume helps to address these omissions.Almost half of the chapters seek to articulate the role of political institutions in thenegotiation of collective identities. At a time when conflict still rages between Catholic and Protestant in NorthernIreland, Palestinian and Israeli and in the Middle East, Pakistani and Indian inKashmir, it is obvious that categorical identities provide a major line of contestationwithin and between states. As well, supra-national political entities are mirrored bysupra-national identity movements ranging from feminists to terrorists. It is alsoobvious that states and their policies reflect political configurations elevating someidentities and repressing others. Policies of subordination and oppression are reflectedin the long-term victimization of peoples because of their identities. Domestic andforeign policies of national and emerging supra- national political ent ities influence theforms of identity victimization as well as potential for mobilization. Sainsbury’s studyof the Oklahoma suffrage movement a century ago, surprisingly, illustrates the degreeto which local recognition struggles and movement mobilizatio ns have long beeninfluenced by the imperatives of national politics. Central Europe has experienced the collapse of one supra- national politicalconfiguration, state socialism, that had dominated the region since the end of WorldWar II and now faces the increasing influence of another supra-national entity in theEuropean Union. The aftermath of state socialism in Central Eastern Europe hasopened those regions to some influence from Western Europe regarding thedemocratic treatment of identity groups, but the chapters here indicate the moderationof that influence by political configurations arising from both the immediate and thedistant past. Gal, for instance, describes a political arena that has been masculinized inHungary as an assertion against the discredited emphasis of state socialism on“equality” and “liberation,” leaving no political space for women’s mobilization aswomen. The opening of political opportunities for men with the end of state socialismhas brought with it a closing of available identities for women, and thus, ofopportunities. Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representingwestern governments provide a space where feminist discourse and women’sparticipation is encouraged, Gal finds that the language of equality is discredited as 11
  13. 13. alien and foreign. The very real problems women face of domestic violence,pornography and sexual harassment must be addressed without recourse to feministdiscourse or mobilization in that guise. In further consideration of the aftermath of state socialism in Hungary, Szalaidescribes how Hungary’s recent accession to the European Council has led to a policyon minorities designed to satisfy Western legal norms, but at the same time has setprecedents that will advantage the larger number of ethnic Hungarians living beyondstate borders. Because the national minorities in Hungary are quite small and wellassimilated and the largest minority, the Gypsies, are poorly organized, the MinorityLaw of 1993 could afford to be “relatively generous” in determination of minorityentitlements. Ethnic Hungarians living beyond the borders could then “bring to thetable” these precedents, perhaps even gaining political representation in Romania,Slovakia, the Ukraine and, even, Yugoslavia. As Szalai describes the symbolicpolitics of the new law, it is not surprising that the diaspora community of Roma wasconsidered least of all in its creation, and its ‘entitlements’ are of little use to them. Inthis political context, with increasing evidence of segregation and discrimination, andtheir poor internal organization, Roma are increasingly engaged in sporadic, low-levelmobilizations like radical self-defense, protest campaigns, calls for statutoryintervention, and extremist attacks “with a touch of “Robin Hoodism.” Her call for aHungarian social science that could provide a non-patronizing rationale for supportingthe Roma might serve as the basis for a broader social movement. The role of the European Union in providing a forum for the greaterrecognition of women’s rights has provided new political opportunities as well as anew focal point for women’s mobilizations. This is apparent in Williams’ discussionof mobilizations on behalf of black and migrant women in Europe and Hobson’streatment of assistance that women in the Republic of Ireland have received from theconditions set down for EU membership. For black and migrant women, theintercession of Left women with the Women’s Lobby of the EU offered politicalopportunities that were not available in member states. For Irish women, themonolithic hold of the Catholic Church and state that encode essential genderdifferences in famialism and nationalism was to some extent broken when criteria forEU membership forced changes in rights to work in 1973. These changes could buildon the increasing mobilization of Irish women that was accelerated by a 1967 UnitedNations’ directive to NGOs to create official national organizations to lobbygovernments for gender equality. By 1995, the resulting Irish Council for the Status ofWomen had become the official National Women’s Council of Ireland, representingover eighty women’s organizations. Despite their increasing importance in influencing political opportunities forrecognition struggles, supra- national political entities have not taken the place ofnational level politics. Two of the chapters here point to different phases in thestruggle to establish what Hobson calls the cultural coding of citizenship or collectiveidentities as they become embedded in political policies and culture. Hobson’s chapteron the long-term hegemony of gender neutral framing by the Swedish labormovement that persisted throughout much of the twentieth century demonstrates thepower of identities created by successful social movements. In the Swedish case, thiswas an identity based on the worker-citizen which, over the course of the century,served as the framework for recognition struggles around gender issues. Thus, public 12
  14. 14. policy gradually incorporated gender differences so that women won the right to vote,to equal responsibility with their husbands for the care and support of their children,to secondary schooling, to work in the civil service and to income maintenance whenfathers failed to pay their support. In what she terms “path dependency” thischanneling of the relationship between gender and citizenship created a falseuniversalism in which women were incorporated into the polity on the same basis asmen. Path dependency or an overdetermined set of political identities that failed toacknowledge disparities in men’s and women’s life course and choices led to thethreat of a separate women’s party by the end of the century. While the success of the Swedish labor movement’s universalistic model ofthe worker-parent-citizen illustrates the way in which a hegemonic identity shapedrecognition struggles for much of the twentieth century, Sainsbury’s study of thesuffrage movement in Oklahoma indicates how a multiplicity of recognition struggleswere influenced by the cha nging opportunities defined by national politics: a civil warin which native Americans made the mistake of siding with the South; the punishingaftermath of that choice for native Americans and former slaves; party alignmentsdefined by the war; shifting criteria for citizenship and for statehood; federaldefinitions of individual as opposed to communal property rights; and constitutionaltolerance for state segregation laws. Despite this largely negative political context, thevariety of recognition struggles provided opportunities in which the only state with aslave and confederate legacy granted full suffrage to women prior to passage of thefederal constitutional amendment. A series of territorial and state conventions servedto mobilize women among na tive Americans, blacks, socialists, populists, and Euro-American settlers. With the largest socialist vote in the U.S., Oklahoma early enactedprogressive legislation legalizing the referendum and initiative which served as themeans by which women were gradually able to increase the margin of support forsuffrage.Conclusions McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly (2001) argue in their work on contentious politicsthat there is a fine line at most between social movements and the politics of everydaylife. It is within the context of social movements, however, that the indeterminacy ofculturally embedded identities is heightened and new possibilities are explored. Thecentrality of processes of negotiating and constructing identities that lie at the heart ofcontemporary studies of collective action tends to emphasizes fluidity and openness .Yet, these processes occur within contexts of enduring political cultures as well asvarying political opportunities. Although there are shades of meaning andinterpretation that theoretically open countless avenues of collective action, thehistorical continuities attached to these identities (some of very short duration)preclude an infinite variety of conceivable actions. Their approach which emphasizesuniversal processes of contention across the modern period is contrasted withMelucci’s continuing assertion (1996) that the contemporary period calls forth anunusually strong emphasis on the negotiation, construction and deployment ofcollective identities, in short, recognitio n struggles. It is his claim that their agentsseek recognition for identities as much as achievement of material and symbolicobjects. 13
  15. 15. This treasury of case studies provide an impressive legacy for the continuingstudy of collective identities. Like Melucci, they define recognition struggles as aprocess. Like Melucci, they richly illustrate that a collective identity is not a “thing;”it is a set of activities. Yet, also like della Porta and Diani, Gamson, Snow, Benford,Taylor, Whittier and their collaborators, they repeatedly describe a set of recurringactivities of negotiation and construction of boundaries that are consequential forredistribution in contexts strongly influenced by national and supra-national politics.So central are collective identities to social movements that these activities can takeover other processes of networking, solidarity, strategic planning in a field ofvariously situated actors. Melucci’s conceptual solution is in referencing a verb,identization, by which he refers to “this increasingly self-reflexive and constructedmanner in which contemporary collective actors tend to define themselves… Withinthe boundaries of our language, it is a rough and provocative acknowledgment of aqualitative leap in the present forms of collective action and also a call for anequivalent leap in our cognitive tools” 1995: 51). None of these theorists or the papers here meet Melucci’s call for recasting theentire study of social movements. He continued to argue through his last publicationsthat current approaches are too top down, too political, and too superficial. By takingthe movement at its word that it is a legitimate actor, he argues, the analyst ignores themost important questions related to the negotiation and construction of social actors.While not embracing Melucci’s entire agenda, the present volume points us in threenew directions based on their extended exploration of the discursive implications ofrecognition struggles: the centrality of adversarial relationships in the negotiation andconstruction of identities, and, thus, the lack of autonomy that most collective actorsface in being understood in thee way they understand themselves; the potential ofidentities as a source of continuity for movements over time and space, yet the highlycontingent nature of meanings ascribed to identities in different times and places; and,finally, the often ignored roles of states and their agents in reinforcing or suppressingidentities in conjunction with their more familiar role in opening and closing politicalopportunities. Each of these themes moves the struggles for collective recognitioncloser to the center of social movement theory. Melucci would have been pleased. 14
  16. 16. REFERENCESDella Porta, Donatella and Mario Diani. 1999. Social Movements: An Introduction Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.Ferree, Myra Marx and Frederick Miller. 1985. Mobilization and Meaning: Towardan Integration of Social Psychological and Resource Perspectives on Social Movements. Sociological Inquiry 55: 38-61.Gamson, William A. 1992a. “The Social Psychology of Collective Action.” Pp. 53-76in Aldon Morris and Carol Mueller, eds. Frontiers in Social Movement Theory. New Haven: Yale University Press._______________. 1992b. Talking Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press._______________. 1995. Constructing Social Protest. Pp. 85-106 in Hank Johnstonand Bert Klandermans, eds. Social Movements and Culture. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press.Gamson, William A., Bruce Fireman, and Steven Rytina. 1982. Encounters withUnjust Authority. Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press.Gamson, William A. and David S. Meyer. 1996. Framing Political Opportunity. Pp.275- 290 in McAdam, McCarthy and Zald, Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements. Cambridge University Press.Goffman, Ervin. 1974. Frame Analysis. An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Hunt, Scott A., Robert D. Benford, and David A. Snow. 1994. Identity Fields:Framing Processes and the Social Construction of Movement Identities. Pp. 185-206 in Enrique Larana, Hank Johnston, and Joseph Gusfield, eds. New Social Movements: From Ideology to Identity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Johnston, Hank and Bert Klandermans, eds. 1995. Social Movements and Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Klandermans, Bert. 1984. Mobilization and Participation: social Psychological Expansions of Resource Mobilization Theory. American Sociological Review 49: 583-600. 15
  17. 17. McAdam, Doug. 1982. Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.McAdam, Doug, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly. 2001. Contentious Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.McAdam, Doug, John McCarthy, and Mayer Zald, eds. 1996. ComparativePerspectives On Social Movements: Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures and Cultural Framing. New York: Cambridge University Press.McCarthy, John and Mayer Zald. 1973. The Trends of Social Movements in America: Professionalization and Resource Mobilization. Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press._______________. 1977. Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A Partial Theory. American Journal of Sociology 82: 1212-41.McPhail, Clark. 1991. The Myth of the Madding Crowd. New York: Aldine deGruyter.Melucci, Alberto. 1985. The Symbolic Challenge of Contemporary Movements.Social Research 52: 789-816._______________. 1989. Nomads of the Present. London: Hutchinson Radius.????????_______________. 1995. The Process of Collective Identity. Pp. 41-63 in HankJohnston and Bert Klandermans, eds. Social Movements and Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press._______________. 1996. Challenging Codes: Collective Action in the InformationAge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Morris, Aldon and Carol Mueller, eds. 1992. Frontiers in Social Movement Theory. New Haven: Yale University Press.Olson, Marcur. 1963. The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard.Pizzorno, Alessandro. 1978. Political Exchange and Collective Identity in Industrial Conflict. Pp. 277-98 in C. Crouch and Alessandro. Pizzorno eds., The Resurgence of Class Conflict in Western Europe. New York: Holmes &Meier.Snow, David A., Burke E. Rochford, Steven Worden and Robert Benford. 1986.Frame 16
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