On the Cross Road of Polity, Political Elites and Mobilization: Volume 24

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Table of contents

(10 chapters)

Prelims

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Part I National Identity, Ethnicity, and Public Policy

Abstract

This paper examines the construction of ethnic ties between immigrants from different counties in Ireland in New York City. Specifically, it explores an attempt to foster Irish unity and pride through the playing of Gaelic sports in New York City (1904–1916). Rather than treating Gaelic sport as a cultural resource that ethnic entrepreneurs harnessed, the paper treats both Gaelic sports and Irish ethnicity as delicate organizational accomplishment. This paper traces a delicate process of experimentation, spanning more than a decade, at the end of which the organizers of the sport managed to produce gripping, but friendly, rivalries between the different teams. This accomplishment created ethnic institutional scaffolding within which immigrants were more likely to see themselves as Irish Americans rather than merely immigrants from particular counties on the island.

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Scholars have long argued that churches play a critical role in mobilizing communities marginal to the political process, primarily by pooling resources, disseminating information, and providing opportunities for members to develop community networks, leadership, and civic skills. However, recent research suggests that churches only serve as effective mobilizing institutions when they engage in direct political discussion and recruitment. Even so, churches may face economic, legal, and institutional barriers to entering the political sphere, and explicit political speech and action remain rare. Through an analysis of two years of ethnographic fieldwork following faith-based community organizers attempting to recruit Spanish speakers throughout a Catholic Archdiocese into a campaign for immigrant rights, this paper explores the institutional constraints on church political mobilization, and how these are overcome to mobilize one of the most politically marginal groups in the United States today: Hispanic undocumented immigrants and their allies. I argue that scholars of political engagement must look beyond the structural features of organizations to consider the effects of their institutionalized domains and practices. While churches do face institutional barriers to political mobilization, activists who specialize their recruitment strategy to match the institutional practices of the organizations they target can effectively overcome these barriers to mobilize politically alienated populations.

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Federal immigration policy embodies national ideas about membership. Nevertheless, attitudes toward immigration within a nation are not invariable. Regional policies vary dramatically in their support or antagonism toward immigrants. In addition, immigration policy profoundly affects other areas of governmental authority. This chapter explores the relationship between state-level immigration policy and family reunification for Hispanic/Latino children in the United States. The quantitative analysis utilizes data from the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) (2008–2014) as well as data gathered from the Child Welfare Outcomes Report published by the Department of Health and Human Services. The results show that while Hispanic/Latino children are not overrepresented in the child welfare systems of the states with the most antagonistic legislation, they are returned to the custody of their parent(s) in smaller percentages compared to whites in the states with the most antagonistic bills compared with the states with the most supportive bills.

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We identify methodological weaknesses in a paper by Skocpol, Abend-Wein, Howard, and Lehmann (1993) on the origins of mothers’ pensions in the American states in the early twentieth century. These include a sub-optimal and potentially biased strategy for assessing the impact of state characteristics on the time to adoption of pensions, as well as the use of a backward stepwise regression procedure for selecting independent variables. To determine whether Skocpol et al.’s conclusions remain valid, we recreated most of their dataset and used methods that are more appropriate for the analysis of duration data, including the Cox and complementary cloglog event history procedures. While we find support for several of their claims, our findings allow for a more straightforward interpretation of the role of explanatory variables, and the temporal dependence of the adoption process.

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Part II Political Elites and Political Contention

Abstract

Social scientists continue to invest a great deal of effort in constructing superior measures of democracy without arriving at any consensus. Reflections on this state of affairs frequently refer to an essay of more than a half-century ago in which the philosopher W. B. Gallie analyzed the characteristics of what he called “essentially contested concepts.” Gallie’s account of the properties of these concepts, however, is inadequate. It looks more promising to explore the contestants and the contests and especially the dynamic roles played by social movements in the history of democracy. Gallie’s focus on a debate among philosophers needs to be incorporated within a larger a larger field of social conflict.

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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.

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This paper aims, through the specific example of the plenipotentiary envoys – a.k.a. the polpredy, at questioning Law as a legitimate knowledge of the political elite in post-Soviet Russia. The term legitimate has to be understood as both a legitimated and a legitimating knowledge.

A new level of administration was set by Vladimir Putin right after his election in May 2000 and has become a symbol of the militarization of political elites in Russia, concretized by a massive recruitment of people from the so-called power ministries. Beyond this, in the context of a closed institutional game and the power’s will to neutralize a whole bunch of the political game’s rules, law also becomes a ground on which to build a control of the political and administrative elites’ recruitment. Our approach blends a critical overview of the literature and a prosopographical study of more than 20 members of Russian top political elites between 2000 and 2012, corresponding to Putin’s three first mandates as the head of the Russian state – two as President and a third one as Prime Minister under Dmitri Medvedev’s Presidency.

Our study led us to the conclusion that, not only should we regard Law as esteemed but also, and above all, as invested with an instrumental function by the power in place, but also those who long to be in power.

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This paper analyzes the connection between black political protest and mobilization, and the rise and fall of a black urban regime. The case of Oakland is instructive because by the mid-1960s the ideology of “black power” was important in mobilizing two significant elements of the historically disparaged black community: (1) supporters of the Black Panthers and, (2) neighborhood organizations concentrated in West Oakland. Additionally, Oakland like the city of Atlanta also developed a substantial black middle class that was able to mobilize along the lines of its own “racialized” class interests. Collectively, these factors were important elements in molding class-stratified “black power” and coalitional activism into the institutional politics of a black urban regime in Oakland. Ultimately, reversal factors would undermine the black urban regime in Oakland. These included changes in the race and class composition of the local population: black out-migration, the “new immigration,” increasing (predominantly white) gentrification, and the continued lack of opportunity for poor and working-class blacks, who served as the unrequited base of the black urban regime. These factors would change the fortunes of black political life in Oakland during the turbulent neoliberal era.

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This paper develops a new theory arguing that party change results from ruptures in political parties’ ties to civil society organizations. I demonstrate the utility of this approach by using it to explain why the Rhode Island Democratic Party (RIDP) changed from a hierarchical machine to a porous political field occupied by multiple interlegislator cliques and brokered by extra-party political organizations and professionals. While others attribute party change to bureaucratization, electoral demand, or system-level changes, I analyze historical, observational, and interview data to find that a severance in the RIDP’s relationship with organized labor prompted party change by causing power to diffuse outward as leadership lost control over nominations and the careers of elected office holders. In the spaces that remained, interest groups and political professionals came to occupy central positions within the party field, serving as brokers of the information and relationships necessary to coordinate legislative activity. This analysis refines existing theories of party change and provides a historically-grounded explanation for the institutionalization of interest groups and political professionals in American party politics.

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Cover of On the Cross Road of Polity, Political Elites and Mobilization
DOI
10.1108/S0895-9935201724
Publication date
2016-12-14
Book series
Research in Political Sociology
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-480-8
Book series ISSN
0895-9935