Elites, Policy, and Social Movements

On the Cross Road of Polity, Political Elites and Mobilization

ISBN: 978-1-78635-480-8, eISBN: 978-1-78635-479-2

ISSN: 0895-9935

Publication date: 14 December 2017


Given the growing interest in social movements as policy agenda setters, this paper investigates the contexts within which movement groups and actors work with political elites to promote their common goals for policy change. In asking how and why so-called outsiders gain access to elites and to the policymaking process, I address several contemporary theoretical and empirical concerns associated with policy change as a social movement goal. I examine the claim that movements use a multipronged, long-term strategy by working with and targeting policymakers and political institutions on the one hand, while shaping public preferences – hearts and minds – on the other; that these efforts are not mutually exclusive. In addition, I look at how social movement organizations and actors are critical in expanding issue conflict outside narrow policy networks, often encouraged to do so by political elites with similar policy objectives. And, I discuss actors’ mobility in transitioning from institutional activists to movement and organizational leaders, and even to protesters, and vice versa. The interchangeability of roles among actors promoting social change in strategic action fields points to the porous and fluid boundaries between state and nonstate actors and organizations.



Pettinicchio, D. (2017), "Elites, Policy, and Social Movements", On the Cross Road of Polity, Political Elites and Mobilization (Research in Political Sociology, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 155-190. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0895-993520160000024006

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