Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0037
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0037
Scholarship has left the study of the consequences of social movements in the background for a long time, focusing instead on movement emergence, characteristics, and dynamics. Since the mid-1970s, however, scholars have paid an increasing interest in how social movements and protest activities may produce change at various levels. The existing literature can be ordered according to the kind of consequence addressed. In this regard, one can roughly distinguish between political, biographical, and cultural outcomes. Political consequences are those effects of movement activities that alter in some way the movements’ political environment. Biographical consequences are effects on the life course of individuals who have participated in movement activities, effects that are at least in part due to involvement in those activities. Although their contours are less easily defined, cultural outcomes can be seen as the impact that social movements may have in altering their broader cultural environment. The bulk of the existing works have dealt with policy outcomes, which can be considered as a subcategory of political outcomes. Biographical outcomes are less numerous, but they form a substantial and quite coherent body of literature. Cultural outcomes have been studied much less often. More recently, scholars have started to investigate the effects that social movements and protest activities may have on other aspects of society, such as the economy and market-related institutions, or on other movements. In addition, one should also consider the distinction between internal and external outcomes as well as that between intended and unintended consequences. Both distinctions partly cross-cut the typology of political, biographical, and cultural outcomes, although one might think of political outcomes as mostly external and more intended, biographical outcomes as mostly internal and unintended, and cultural outcomes as both internal and external and mostly unintended.
A number of works have been published that provide general overviews of the outcomes of social movements and protest activities. Most of these works focus on one specific type of consequence, but Giugni 2008 takes a broader view and addresses political, biographical, and cultural outcomes. Studies dealing with political outcomes have been reviewed—first in Giugni 1998, then in Amenta and Caren 2004, and more recently in Amenta, et al. 2010. Giugni 2004 addresses the literature on biographical outcomes. Earl 2004 looks at works on broader cultural outcomes. Whittier 2004 examines research on the consequences of social movements for each other, or spillover effects. Finally, King and Pearce 2010 reviews the growing literature on economic outcomes of social movements and protest activities.
Amenta, Edwin, and Neal Caren. “The Legislative, Organizational, and Beneficiary Consequences of State-Oriented Challenges.” In The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Edited by David A. Snow, Sarah Soule, and Hanspeter Kriesi, 462–488. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
A useful review of the state-oriented and legislative consequences of social movements, with a focus on how they apply to various beneficiary groups and movement organizations. It also addresses specific conceptual, theoretical, and methodological issues.
Amenta, Edwin, Neal Caren, Elizabeth Chiarello, and Yang Su. “The Political Consequences of Social Movements.” Annual Review of Sociology 36 (2010): 287–307.
The most recent and up-to-date overview of works on the political outcomes of social movements, focusing on movements in democratic polities and the United States in comparative and historical perspective. Offers suggestions for further research.
Earl, Jennifer. “The Cultural Consequences of Social Movements.” In The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Edited by David A. Snow, Sarah Soule, and Hanspeter Kriesi, 508–530. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
A laudable effort to summarize the relatively sparse literature on the cultural outcomes of social movements. Discusses the challenges faced in defining cultural outcomes, the kinds of cultural outcomes uncovered by scholarship, and the explanations of cultural change suggested by research. Offers suggestions for further research.
Giugni, Marco. “Was if Worth the Effort? The Outcomes and Consequences of Social Movements.” Annual Review of Sociology 24 (1998): 371–393.
An early review of the existing literature, focusing on political outcomes. Discusses the role of internal factors, such as the movements’ organization and the use of disruptiveness, as well as of external factors, such as public opinion and political opportunity structures in facilitating or preventing movements from obtaining policy gains.
Giugni, Marco. “Personal and Biographical Consequences.” In The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Edited by David A. Snow, Sarah Soule, and Hanspeter Kriesi, 489–507. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
Reviews works on the biographical outcomes of social movements, from the follow-up studies of New Left activists to more recent studies reaching beyond that. Also discusses methodological issues relating to the study of biographical outcomes.
Giugni, Marco. “Political, Biographical, and Cultural Consequences of Social Movements.” Sociology Compass 2.5 (2008): 1582–1600.
A rare attempt to review relevant works on the consequences of social movements and protest activities by addressing different types of outcomes at the same time. Inevitably a bit cursory on each of them.
King, Brayden G., and Nicholas A. Pearce. “The Contentiousness of Markets: Politics, Social Movements and Institutional Change in Markets.” Annual Review of Sociology 36 (2010): 249–267.
Reviews works on the economic outcomes of social movements, in particular the role that the latter have on bringing institutional change and innovation to markets. Examines both direct and indirect pathways through which movements can bring about market change.
Whittier, Nancy. “The Consequences of Social Movements for Each Other.” In The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements. Edited by David A. Snow, Sarah Soule, and Hanspeter Kriesi, 531–551. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
Provides an overview of scholarship on the consequences of social movements for each other. Discusses the various kinds of effects that movements have on each other as well as the routes and determinants of such effects.
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