The Mixed Blessing of Donald Trump for Progressive Protest

Professor Barkan has posted an essay on the blogsite “Mobilizing Ideas”:

A central task of any social movement is to induce people to participate in movement efforts and to sustain their commitment to the cause once they do start participating. This task is especially important for movements that engage in protest, but it is also necessary for movements that limit themselves to electoral and other conventional political activities. The typical absence of material incentives for joining and participating in a movement makes this task highly necessary and one that occupies the attention of movement organizers.

Scholars identify several factors that promote commitment to and participation in social movements. Congruence with movement beliefs and goals and solidary ties with other movement members are commonly cited as necessary if not sufficient conditions for sustained commitment and participation (Barkan, Cohn and Whitaker 1993; Klandermans 1997). Less scholarly attention has been paid to the role played by leadership in this regard, reflecting a more general neglect of leadership in the social movement literature (Morris and Staggenborg 2004). The role played by charismatic leadership has especially been neglected, even though such leadership can greatly help to attract new members to a social movement and to foster their commitment and participation once they do come into a movement (Stutje 2012).

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