Colleges and universities in the United States are common sites of social movement activism, yet we know little about the conditions under which campus-based movements are likely to meet with success or failure. In this study, I develop the concept of educational opportunity structures, and I highlight several dimensions of colleges and universities' educational opportunity structures – specifically, schools' statuses as public or private, secular or religious, highly or lowly ranked, and more or less wealthy – that can affect the outcomes of campus-based movements. Analyzing a religious freedom movement at Vanderbilt University, which mobilized from 2010 to 2012 to demand the ability of religious student organizations to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and religious belief, I argue that Vanderbilt's status as a private, secular, elite, and wealthy university ensured that conservative Christian activism at that school was highly unlikely to succeed. The findings hold important theoretical implications for the burgeoning literature on student activism.
Coley, J.S. (2021), "Mobilizing for Religious Freedom: Educational Opportunity Structures and Outcomes of Conservative Christian Campus Activism
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