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Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties
edited by Jo Freeman and Victoria Johnson
Rowman and Littlefield, 1999

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This Book's Story

Published in 1999 by Rowman and Littlefield, this book reprinted some of the classic articles in its predecessor, but brings the field up to date. It includes pieces on later social movements, on right wing movements, and some of Jo's photos from her own days as a movement activist. It provides a comprehensive (but not all inclusive) review of American movements and countermovements in the third wave of protests since this country was founded.

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Part 1: Moblization

- On the Origins of Social Movements
by Jo Freeman.

- Mobilizing the Disabled
by Roberta Ann Johnson

- Sacrifice for the Cause: Group Processes, Recruitment, and Commitment in a Student Social Movement
by Eric L. Hirsch

- Recruiting Intimates, Recruiting Strangers: Building the Contemporary Animal Rights Movement
by James M. Jasper

Part 2: Organization

- The Structure of Social Movements: Environmental Activism and Its Opponents
by Luther P. Gerlach

- The Consequences of Professionalization and Formalization in the Pro-Choice Movement
by Suzanne Staggenborg

- Aids, Anger, and Activism: ACT UP as a Social Movement Organization
by Abigail Halcli

Part 3: Consciousness

- The Spirit Willing: Collective Identity and the Development of the Christian Right
by John C. Green

- Collective Identity in Social Movement Communities: Lesbian Feminist Mobilization by Verta Taylor and Nancy E. Whittier

- The Social Construction of Subversive Evil: The Contemporary Anti-Cult and Anti-Satanism Movements
by David G. Bromley and Diana Gay Cutchin

Part 4: Strategy and Tactics

- A Model for Analyzing the Strategic Options of Social Movement Organizations
by Jo Freeman

- The Strategic Determinants of a Countermovement: The Emergence and Impact of Operation Rescue Blockades
by Victoria Johnson

- Civil Disobedience and Protest Cycles
by David S. Meyer

- The Transformation of a Constituency into a Movement Revisited: Farmworker Organizing in California
by J. Craig Jenkins

Part 5: Decline

- The End of SDS and the Emergence of Weatherman: Demise Through Success
by Frederick D. Miller

- The Decline of the Civil Rights Movement
by Doug McAdam

- The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee: Rise and Fall of a Redemptive Organization
by Emily Stoper



The 1960s was one of those rare decades that transforms society. It was a decade that spilled over into the seventies and eighties. Its effects are still rippling through some of our more remote social bayous even as the reaction to those effects dominates the societal center. The sixties was marked, above all, by public discontent organized into protest movements.
While protests are common in our history, there have been three periods since our country's founding in which wave after wave of protests have reshaped our policies, priorities and values. The first of these were the moral reform movements, particularly abolition and temperance, which preceded our Civil War. The second were the populist and progressive movements between 1890 and 1920 which sought to curb corruption in politics and the economic power of corporations. The sixties movements and their progeny were the third.
While each period has its own theme, there are some common characteristics. They last roughly twenty to thirty years. While there are a few major movements which set the tone of the period, there are many minor ones which vary the theme and bring its ideas to people who might otherwise be unaffected. There is always a backlash. Social movements generate countermovements, and sometimes they also spawn government repression. Countermovements can limit the reach of social movements; they can also mobilize new populations and stimulate new movements. At the end of the period there are new institutions, new interest groups, and different policies and priorities than there were before, though these are not always the ones the initial movements aimed to attain.
This book is about American movements and countermovements of the third wave.
The civil rights movement that began in the late fifties was the first of the sixties movements, and it set the tone and style for what was to come. Organized by and for southern blacks, the civil rights movement nonetheless sought a reaffirmation of such basic American values as equal rights and individual dignity. This reaffirmation by a movement that targeted as its enemy a practice -- segregation -- typical of a region that itself was stigmatized by the rest of the nation made it easy for a population still appalled by the atrocities of Hitler's Germany to view the movement's achievements as a goal and not a threat. It was not until black protest "went north" that serious national opposition appeared.
In the meantime, the civil rights movement captured the imagination of a public jaded by a decade of conformity, particularly the post-World War II generation attending college. The young people who found an answer to President Kennedy's call to "ask what you can do for your country" through participation in the civil rights movement began to apply the concepts and values they had learned from that movement to other segments of society. These values were initially expressed in the Port Huron Statement, adopted in 1962 by the Students for a Democratic Society. It urged "the establishment of a democracy of individual participation governed by two central aims: that the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life; that society be organized to encourage independence in men [sic] and provide the media for their common participation ..."
SDS went through many changes before finally self-destructing in 1969. But the values expressed in the Port Huron Statement did not die with it. These values emphasized the politicization of society, individual fulfillment, and the legitimation of dissent in a sharp break with the previous era's stress on privatization and conformity. Such a change proved enduring even while conservatives organized their own movements in reaction to the successes of the sixties and seventies.
Politicization and individual fulfillment as values probably had their greatest effect in the women's movement, which expressed them in the phrase "the personal is political" and acted them out in ways that began to violate fundamental American institutions such as patriarchy. Although this movement began in the sixties, it did not become public until 1970, and in the decade of the seventies it reached its peak and greatest influence. More than any other movement of the last two decades, it deprivatized what had heretofore been perceived as personal problems.
Although the sixties is viewed as the decade of protest, it was really the seventies that saw the greatest flowering of movements on a wide variety of issues. As waves of protest spread throughout our society, new segments of the population picked up the banner of social change. Gays and lesbians, animal rights activists and the disabled were just some of the many identities that appeared in order to demand new laws, attitudes and practices. Indeed "identity" took on new meaning, resulting in highly organized groups distinct from traditional economic "interests." But when protests grew larger and more frequent, publicity waned. Four marches on Washington between 1960 and 1980 drew over one hundred thousand participants: a civil rights march in 1963, an antiwar demonstration in 1969, an ERA march in 1978, and an antinuclear march in 1979. While accurate figures aren't available, there were probably more marches and demonstrations in the seventies than the sixties.
The eruption of movements in the seventies testified to the success of the sixties' movements in several ways. First, the sixties' movements legitimated dissent itself. Protesters are no longer stigmatized as subversive; at worst they are dismissed as troublemakers. Second, the use of mass demonstrations and even civil disobedience was perceived as effective. Participants may have seen few immediate benefits from their actions, but they attracted the attention of many others who had neither the skills nor the knowledge to use the traditional methods of political insiders. Last, but hardly least, the gains achieved in the sixties stimulated a backlash.
The sixties' movements were largely from the left. Those of the seventies, eighties and nineties were from the right as well as the left, and other movements were unclassifiable on a left-right spectrum. The initial targets of the countermovements were issues that were publicly prominent: busing, the Equal Rights Amendment, and abortion. Soon added were opposition to civil rights for gays, affirmative action, environmental regulation, health and safety programs, and immigrants, legal and illegal. In the eighties and nineties the Christian Right, which had sporadically resisted the changes demanded by the movements of the sixties and seventies, organized into a politically cohesive and permanent opposition.
By the end of the Twentieth Century the third wave of protests had long worn out, and even the countermovements had lost steam and direction. The third wave left in its wake new values, new priorities, new organized groups and new political alignments. It also left new conflicts, but ones which would be fought through the courts and the legislatures rather than on the streets. Protest slipped from the headlines to the back pages. It remains for another era, another generation of idealists, to see protest as the best route to change.



One of the most difficult problems in analyzing social movements is defining exactly what a social movement is. Participants generally know that they are part of a movement, but movements are so diverse that it is difficult to isolate their common elements and incorporate them into a succinct definition. Virtually all movement theorists have differing definitions. Nonetheless, there are some common themes and elements that recur in case studies and theoretical analyses, although not always with a common emphasis.
Spontaneity and structure are the most important elements. Scholars writing from the collective behavior perspective emphasized the spontaneity present in fads, crowds, panics, riots, and social movements, with the latter merely a more organized version of these similar phenomena. Little attention was paid to how movements became organized, or how the type of organization affected the movement's goals and participants. Resource mobilization theorists critiqued this perspective, emphasizing the importance of structure to understand social movements. They downplayed spontaneity, sometimes to the point of viewing all movement actions as deliberate and calculated.
It is much more useful to think of all the many forms of social action as existing along a continuum. At one end are those forms marked by their contagious spontaneity and lack of structure, such as fads, trends, and crowds. At the other end are interest groups whose primary characteristic is a well developed and stable organization often impervious to spontaneous demands from their members. In the middle are social movements that, however diverse they may be, exhibit noticeable spontaneity and a describable structure, even if a formal organization is lacking. It is difficult to identify the exact amount of structure necessary to distinguish a social movement from a crowd or trend, and often harder to distinguish a social movement organization from an interest group, but those distinctions are crucial. It is the tension between spontaneity and structure that gives a social movement its peculiar flavor. When one significantly dominates the other, what may one day be, or may once have been, a social movement, is something else.
Conceptualizing a social movement as the middle of a continuum does not mean there is a natural progression from the spontaneous end to the organized one, as "natural history" theorists postulate. As some of the case studies in this book illustrate, the organization can exist before the movement. While it is unusual for a highly formalized organization to become a social movement organization, it is even more unusual for a totally unorganized mass to become one.
A social movement has one or more core organizations in a penumbra of people who engage in spontaneous supportive behavior which the core organizations can often mobilize but less often control. When there is spontaneous behavior with only embryonic organization, there may be a premovement phenomena awaiting the right conditions to become a movement, but there is no movement per se. When the penumbra of spontaneous behavior has contracted to no more than the core organizations, or has not yet developed, there is also no movement. An organization that can mobilize only its own members, and whose members mobilize only when urged to action by their organization, is lacking a key characteristic of movements. Regardless of whether structure or spontaneity comes first, or if they appear simultaneously, the important point is that both must exist.
In addition to structure and spontaneity other important elements shape the form and content of a social movement. Whether all are necessary to make a movement is open to debate. But they are so prevalent that they cannot be overlooked.
Of utmost importance is consciousness that one is part of a group with whom one shares a particular concern. Individuals acting in response to common social forces with no particular identification with one another may be setting a trend, but they are not part of a movement. It was said by sixties' activists that "the movement is a state of mind." As Roberta Johnson demonstrates in her analysis of the disabled, it is a common state of mind and a sense of identification with others who hold similar views that make possible the common acts of movement participants, even when they are out of communication with each other. Government agents in the 1960s often attributed concurrent eruptions of protest on the campus as the result of some underlying control by agents of a well-organized subversive group. The real culprit was the press, which by publicizing the actions of student on one campus gave new ideas for actions to students with a common state of mind on other campuses. The spontaneous activities that subsequently occurred may not yet have been a movement, but they drew upon the common consciousness that was later forged into a movement.
Alternatively, a movement can create consciousness. The desire to do this by spreading the movement's message is another key component. This missionary impulse is not limited to social movements but when it is lacking, it usually indicates that the movement has been successfully repressed or is stagnating. It may also mean that what ought to be a movement has never become one. There is a reason social movements are called "movements." Without the missionary impulse they do not move.
The message carried is another important element -- some would say the most important. Highly developed movements usually embody their message in an elaborate ideology that may antedate the movement, or be constructed by it. Such an ideology has several parts. It specifies discontents, prescribes solutions, justifies a change from the status quo, and may also identify the agents of social change and the strategy and tactics they are to use. Not all movements have a complete ideology, nor is one necessary. What is necessary is identification of a problem, and a vision of a better future. These alone can create a belief system of extraordinary power.
It has become common to use the term "movement" for two different phenomena, and this can cause some confusion in understanding what a movement is. "Movement" is used initially for the mobilization and organization of large numbers of people to pursue a common cause. It is also used for the community of believers that is created by that mobilization. The first of these is a short-term phenomenon. Movements always decline. But when movements cease, the community that was created often continues. It may even survive until the next wave of movement activity, and may (or may not) provide resources and ideas for a new generation of movement activists. When reading about the "movement" it is important to understand whether mobilization or community is the topic because the questions asked will have different answers.


* * *

The sixties transformed the study and analysis of social movements. Previously social movements was a subfield within the framework of collective behavior. While those grounded in this tradition did not all agree on what a social movement was, or what the key elements of analysis ought to be, they did share a common distaste, often subtle, for movements and their participants. By and large these writers came of age politically and academically in the thirties and forties when the prevalent movements were extremist in nature. Fascism, communism, and other totalitarian movements shaped their perception of social movements and the questions they considered central to their analyses. The literature of this period was focused on the psychology of movement participation. It looked for the sources of discontent, analyzed the motives of participants, parsed their ideology, and critiqued their leadership.

Movement scholars writing in the seventies and eighties were influenced by the movements of the sixties and seventies. Unlike the previous generation, most of these writers were sympathetic to the movements they studied. Many had been participants, or had friends who were involved. Consequently, they asked very different questions, ones of more immediate interest to movement participants. Their core concerns -- access to resources, political opportunity, organization, and strategy are reflected in some of the chapters of this book. The "resource mobilization" school looked on movement participation as a rational decision calculated to obtain specific goals. It downplayed the role of ideology and grievances in favor of examining actions. Scholars asked "who did what" rather than "why."

During the 1980s and 1990s the pendulum swung. Analysts asked "how" political opportunities or access to resources led to collective action. Ideology was restored to explain how grievances were translated into actions and movement culture became a core concern. The construction of meaning and the manipulation of symbols became crucial to explaining mobilization, and assessing movement success or decline.

Much of the research on what we call "consciousness" -- movement ideology, culture and collective identity -- has been influenced by European "New Social Movement" theorists. They proposed that the search for identity distinguishes the movements of the 1970s and 1980s from earlier class based movements. Movement participation is seen as a way to question all aspects of the social order, from government to interpersonal relationships to organization. In 1983 Jo Freeman published a collection of articles on Social Movements of the Sixties and Seventies. The authors in that book were largely from the "resource mobilization" school. Their chapters revealed its diversity of approaches as well as its commonality of concerns. This book, published sixteen years later, retains the best of those articles, some of which have become classics in the literature. A couple have been revised and updated. Most remain as they were. To these have been added new chapters reflecting the change in theoretical approaches as well as the new social movements. Thus this book is not only about movements, but is part of an intellectual movement in the study of social movements. It illuminates the changes in the questions asked by scholars over the past forty years.



From BOOKPRINTS, a regular column written by Katharine Turok, for DID YOU KNOW, the newsletter of the New York City Chapter of the Women's National Book Association (February 1999).

WNBA member Jo Freeman, author, photographer, activist, and attorney, knows how to get published "the hard way." Next month her Waves of Protest: Social Movements since the Sixties (Rowman & Littlefield, $19.95), coedited with Victoria Johnson, will break into the bookstores. It leaves a long tale in its wake.

The story really begins in 1973 at a political science conference. Just awarded a doctorate, Freeman (B.A., University of California at Berkeley; Ph.D., University of Chicago; J.D., NYU), was walking past an exhibitor's booth when she was stopped by a stranger's outstretched arm as a voice boomed, "Stop! You've written a dissertation I want to publish!" The arm and the voice belonged to Edward J. Artinian, editor at David McKay's college department. He acquired her dissertation, The Politics of Women's Liberation, which was published in 1975 and went on to sell 27,000 copies. In 1975 it was awarded a prize by the American Political Science Association as the best scholarly work on women in politics. (The runner up was a book by Jeane Kirkpatrick).

That same year Freeman published another anthology, Women: A Feminist Perspective, with Mayfield, a California publisher. Although it had been rejected by almost every publisher in, and out of, New York, it quickly became the leading introductory women's studies textbook and is now in its fifth edition.

Soon McKay sold its text division to Longman, which kept McKay's editors and books. After a few years Artinian left to found his own publishing house (Chatham House) and his assistant, Nicole Benevento, became the editor who signed Freeman's next book, a projected anthology, Social Movements of the Sixties and Seventies, which appeared in 1983.

In 1987 Longman reorganized its lists, fired Benevento, and sold or put out of print all of her books, including Freeman's. Armed with a reversion of rights and the knowledge that Social Movements was still selling 500 copies a year Freeman looked for a publisher to reprint it. In the meantime, Artinian introduced her to Leo Wiegman, political science editor at Dorsey Press. He signed her to prepare a textbook on women in politics. Three months later Dorsey was sold to Wadsworth and all its editors lost their jobs.

Wiegman was then hired by Peacock Publishing, privately owned by F. E. (Ted) Peacock, to run the editorial side. Wiegman told Freeman he would do a revised edition, not a reprint, of her Social Movements book and in March 1991, she signed with Peacock. In 1992 Peacock fired Wiegman and canceled his existing contracts. Freeman begged Peacock to reconsider her project, but he turned it down definitively at the end of 1993.

Freeman wrote her contributors to explain the unanticipated delay, and one of them recommended that she take the book to Westview. After a lunch with Dean Birkenkamp, Westview's sociology editor, she began negotiations with him and Jill Rothenberg. Then Westview was sold to HarperCollins and in early 1996 most of its editors left. Jill was still there. After lunch in Brooklyn, where they negotiated terms, Rothenberg returned to Colorado with the proposed contract - and Freeman heard nothing more.

In the Spring of 1997, Artinian phoned Freeman to tell her that Westview's publisher had been fired and more editors had left. Learning that they had gone to Rowman and Littlefield, Freeman got in touch with them again. This time she negotiated with the political science editor, Jennifer Knerr, and signed a contract in June of 1997. Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties will finally be published twelve years after its predecessor was put out of print.

Leo Wiegman, Freeman's almost editor, ultimately ended up as the political science editor at HarperCollins/Westview. So if the contract had gone to completion, Wiegman would most likely have been Freeman's editor again!

Copyright (c) 1999 by Katharine Turok. Reprinted by permission of the author.



"Freeman, Johnson, and their fellow authors survey American social movements since the 1950s with enthusiasm and perspicacity, forcing us to recognize how movement activity has transformed American life over the past half-century."
—    Charles Tilly, Columbia University

"Waves of Protest is a highly useful and empirically rich collection that considers movements since the sixties as a protest wave. Indeed, the movements here are a tsunami of challenge and contention that will pique the interest of students."
—   Hank Johnston, San Diego State University

"Fresh, timely, and widely useful...."
—   Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin

"A 'good read' -- sorely needed to fill a gap in the political science literature on social movements."
—   Karen O'Connor, American University

"The current generation of political science students will appreciate the useful summaries and valuable analyses of movements' political strategies within the structures of the American political system."
—   Andrew S. McFarland, University of Illinois, Chicago.


Perspectives on Political Science, Vol. 29, No. 3, Summer 2000.
by Jon S. Ebeling, California State University, Chico

The eighteen authors of these collected articles on social movements since the 1960s have impressive academic credentials. Virtually all are Ph.D.s teaching at the university level or are practicing organization leaders. The book is systematic, well written, theoretically substantive, and shows high-quality social science analysis of the structure and spontaneity of social movements. The editors suggest that the social movements of the 1960s and the countermovements of the 1970s represent a third broad experience for the United States. The first group of social movements consisted of moral reforms prior to the Civil War. The second group consisted of populist and Progressive movements from the 1890s through the 1920s. Examples of the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s are environmental activism, the pro-choice movement, and the activities of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Students for a Democratic Society. There is not enough space in this review to cover all of the movements discussed in the book.
The seventeen articles are organized into five topics: mobilization, organization, consciousness, strategy/tactics, and decline. Some of the articles, now rewritten, appeared in an earlier book edited by Jo Freeman, Social Movements of the Sixties and Seventies (1983). Three of the seventeen have been updated. Seven were newly written for this anthology.
Some of the articles deal with the origins of social movements, conceptualizing them as originating in "cooptable communication networks" (p. 6). Social movements may be created because of a crisis or by more direct instrumental methods. Some articles discuss types of organizational structure, ranging from the bureaucratic to the "segmentary, polycentric, and reticulate" p. (84). The third section covers group consciousness in the emergence of collective action. The fourth section focuses on the use of external and internal resource opportunities in organizing social movements. The final section discusses how we might conceptualize the decline of organizations involved in social movements.
Overall, this is excellent social science. It is well written, empirical, and intellectually stimulating. A brief example illustrates this: "Mobilization can then be explained by analyzing how group-based political processes, such as consciousness-raising, collective empowerment, polarization, and group decision-making, induce movement participants to sacrifice their personal welfare for the group cause" (p. 47).
The book will be useful for students and scholars of political science, sociology, and social movements, and for people interested in working in such movements. In comparison with other sociological treatments of organizational behavior, the book provides theoretical breadth, new concepts about organizations, and substantive empirical results. It offers new understanding of recent U.S. social history.

Off Our Backs, Nov 1999 by Ellen Kaye Scott

Both feminist teachers and feminist activists will find Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties, edited by Jo Freeman and Victoria Johnson, interesting to read as well as a useful resource. For feminist activists, this book offers a tool for reflecting about our political mobilization--past, present and future. While the essays in this volume cover a range of social movements, such as mobilization for disabled rights, the animal rights movement, AIDS awareness, anti-abortion organizing, and farmworkers, feminists will find this diverse representation of social movements provocative and relevant.

First, many of the movements discussed in the volume constitute components of women's movements in the U.S., or they are movements with large numbers of feminist activist participants.

Second, some of the case studies are explicitly antifeminist movements and reading about them provides insight into the forces that feminists find themselves working against. Third, other social movements analyzed in this volume offer useful directives for feminist activists. While all movements face particular conditions that shape their direction in specific ways, there are also generalizable lessons to be learned from large-scale mobilization for social change. So it is that we still find it useful to analyze the political process, and the successes and failures of the Civil Rights

Movement, for example. The lessons therein are abundant. This collection of essays is therefore extraordinarily useful for activists who also consider themselves students of social change.

Feminist teachers who teach in the area of social movements will also find this collection to be a terrific resource. One could organize a course on social movements around this text and use it as a reader. Waves of Protest is divided into five parts that cover the following areas of social movement theory and analysis: mobilization; organization; participant consciousness and collective identity; strategy and tactics; and social movement decline.It also contains fascinating case studies of movements that have emerged since the sixties in the United States. Freeman and Johnson collected here a number of reprints of classic articles, including Jo Freeman's "On the Origins of Social Movements," Suzanne Staggenborg's "The Consequences of Professionalization and Formalization in the Pro-Choice Movement," Verta Taylor and Nancy Whittier's "Collective Identity in Social Movement Communities: Lesbian Feminist Mobilization," Craig Jenkins' "The Transformation of a Constituency into a Social Movement Revisited: Farmworker Organizing in California" (somewhat revised), and Doug McAdam's "The Decline of the Civil Rights Movement."

In addition to the reprints, there are seven new articles in Waves of Protest. Some of the new material deserves mention here. Considering the seemingly timeless questions of why people join social movements, Eric Hirsch examines the group-based political processes involved with mobilization in the mid- 1980s in the student movement against apartheid and for divestment at Columbia University, and James Jasper considers the different contexts in which social networks and collective meanings have greater relative importance in recruiting new members to the Animal Rights movement. In her analysis of ACT Up, an AIDS activist group that emerged in the late 1980s, Abigail Halcli explores the relationship between organizational structure and social change strategies. John Green examines the role of collective identity in the formation of the Christian Right and reciprocally how the movement itself was the source of collective identity critical to its political mobilization. Victoria Johnson and David Meyer both look at tactics deployed by social movement organization. Johnson examines the use of blockades of abortion clinics by Operation Rescue and Meyer examines how uses of civil disobedience shift at different points in a cycle of protest.

Together, these articles, new and republished, offer a wonderful collection of both theoretical and empirical material on a wide range of social movements since the 1960s in the United States. My main complaint is that I would have liked a little more new material included here. The field of social movements is currently rich with debates that might have been more fully represented. For example, recent burgeoning concern over culture and meaning in social movements offers lively new terrain in the field that shifts attention away from the resource mobilization and political process models that have dominated since the seventies. Discussions on the role of emotions in social movements have also gained both momentum and attention in the last couple of years as well. These areas of social analysis were notably absent in this collection. Nonetheless, I found Waves of Protest to be engaging and most useful for activists and scholars alike. I would highly recommend the book to those interested in the study of social movements.


Amazon Customer Review
June 23, 1999


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