Between Institutional Politics an Insurgencies: Evolution of Social Movements
Posted: 22 Feb 2011
I build a theory of movement cycles that explains under what conditions social movements either become radical insurgencies or are incorporated into institutional politics. Synthesizing from various social movement frameworks, I theorize that radicalization of social movements is heavily conditioned by three key variables: repression type, protest tactics, and the emergent pattern of interaction between the two. The type of repression against an early movement heavily conditions whether the movement diffuses along preexisting networks or fractures internally. At the same time, subsequent protest tactics can either legitimate or delegitimate the initial repression used by the state. This paper finds that governments can address emergent movements to increase the prospects of stable political competition. For instance, even radical movements can be induced to use institutional channels by selective accommodation and repression. It may be costly in the short run, results from the model suggest that suppressing early movements often radicalizes activists and increases public support for militant means of protest.
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