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This paper examines whether affiliation strategies used by social movement organizations to establish institutional linkages assure survival. Several streams within both…
This paper examines whether affiliation strategies used by social movement organizations to establish institutional linkages assure survival. Several streams within both social movement and organization theories suggest contrasting expectations. Two core research questions are proposed: how does strategic affiliation, as well as increasing legitimation, alter social movement organizations’ longevity, and how does the evolution of the movement condition these dynamics? Our answer focuses on the self-help/mutual-aid movement and the institutionalization of national self-help/mutual-aid organizations. Analyses comparing economic, political and symbolic means of survival at the population-of-organizations level and organizational level, and across the history of the movement, show that professional and political alliances and legitimation impact the longevity of self-help/mutual-aid organizations in unexpected ways. For instance, as the number of political alliances at the population level increases, the likelihood of organizational survival declines, although political alliances at the individual organizational level are beneficial for an organization. These relationships change dramatically as the movement matures. Implications for integrating social movement and organizations theories are discussed.
Matthew E. Archibald is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Emory University and studies health movements and health care organizations. His book, The Evolution of Self-Help (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), uses social movement and organizational theories to examine the sociopolitical and economic conditions promoting this unique form of healthcare delivery in the U.S. His most recent work combines these frameworks with social epidemiology to answer questions about community disadvantage and the provision of substance abuse treatment services.