As a site of contestation among job seekers, workers, and managers, the bureaucratic workplace both reproduces and erodes occupational race segregation and racial status…
As a site of contestation among job seekers, workers, and managers, the bureaucratic workplace both reproduces and erodes occupational race segregation and racial status hierarchies. Much sociological research has examined the reproduction of racial inequality at work; however, little research has examined how desegregationist forces, including civil rights movement values, enter and permeate bureaucratic workplaces into the broader polity. Our purpose in this chapter is to introduce and typologize what we refer to as “occupational activism,” defined as socially transformative individual and collective action that is conducted and realized through an occupational role or occupational community. We empirically induce and present a typology from our study of the half-century-long, post-mobilization occupational careers of over 60 veterans of the nonviolent Nashville civil rights movement of the early 1960s. The fourfold typology of occupational activism is framed in the “new” sociology of work, which emphasizes the role of worker agency and activism in determining worker life chances, and in the “varieties of activism” perspective, which treats the typology as a coherent regime of activist roles in the dialogical diffusion of civil rights movement values into, within, and out of workplaces. We conclude with a research agenda on how bureaucratic workplaces nurture and stymie occupational activism as a racially desegregationist force at work and in the broader polity.
Purpose – We make a case for bridging two types of logics – analytic and dialectic – for explaining processes of social-historical change, and maintain that a successful…
Purpose – We make a case for bridging two types of logics – analytic and dialectic – for explaining processes of social-historical change, and maintain that a successful bridge between these two logics depends on a variety of conditions and most especially the type of analytic logic or model one employs for capturing dynamic processes.
Methodology/approach – Conventional models of social change processes typically presuppose ergodic social worlds and are problematic as analytic approaches generally and most certainly are not fertile grounds for feeding dialectic theorization. Instead, we propose modeling dynamic processes that begin by assuming a nonergodic social world – one in flux, one that is nonrepeating, one within which model process and parameter structures are historically contingent and change with time, one that is autocatalytic, creating and changing its own possibilities.
Findings – We develop the line of thinking adumbrated above and illustrate these modeling strategies with empirical examples from US labor movement history. Results from these examples lend much weight to our proposals. Thus, this chapter demonstrates that concerns about the use of ergodic assumptions and about greater use of dialectical reasoning when studying social processes are not idle speculations within theoretical commentaries but have practical consequences in the conduct of research and the building of better theory.
Research limitations/implications – To approximate such an approach, social scientists should avoid cross-sectionalist and longitudinal modeling strategies that presuppose stability and homogeneity in parameter and process structures. Homogeneity and stability in parameter and process structures should be demonstrated, not assumed.
Originality/value – Rather than accepting the alienated spheres of social science analytics and dialectic theory, our proposal presupposes nonergodic social worlds and takes pragmatic steps for estimating analytic models that are more amenable to dialectic reasoning. Models that take nonergodicity seriously not only have the potential to produce better, historically grounded analytics but are also best suited to bridge with dialectic logic, thus taking advantage of the strengths of both forms of logic.
In recent years, and especially with the war in Iraq, the U.S. military's reliance on private contractors as forces in the theater of war has grown and become increasingly…
In recent years, and especially with the war in Iraq, the U.S. military's reliance on private contractors as forces in the theater of war has grown and become increasingly clear. We critically evaluate some of the best literature on the emergence of this phenomenon – especially Ken Silverstein's Private Warriors and P. W. Singer's Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry – and find a neglect of the historical path-dependent character of the rise of the new corporate armed forces. In particular, we concentrate on American experience and two silences that are integral to understanding the path-dependent character of this process: (1) earlier historical reliance on private armed force to suppress the labor movement in America, the template for this new form of irregular armed force and (2) the ghost of Vietnam as a continuing political liability in the mobilization of sufficient troop levels under neo-imperialist aspirations and “the global war on terror,” as the main condition for the rise of the new private military form. Both elements suggest the theoretical importance of state strength/weakness in any explanation of private armed force. We discuss several important political implications of our findings.
Purpose – This paper extends research on social movement media by focusing on the use of a literary genre – realist fiction – namely, the labor problem novel in the…
Purpose – This paper extends research on social movement media by focusing on the use of a literary genre – realist fiction – namely, the labor problem novel in the context of the labor movement and countermovement in late 19th-century America.
Methodology – I do a close reading of a significant early dialogical cluster of such novels to address three key questions: (1) Field position of authors – What was the position of these labor problem authors in relation to the movement field and literary field and how did that positioning matter? (2) Genre selection – What was it about the realist novel that attracted labor problem partisans to it? (3) Internal content – How did authors shape the internal structure and content of their stories?
Findings – As literary activists, authors pivoted between the movement field and literary field selecting the novel for the special powers that it possessed relative to other historically available media. Authors produced stories with a good/evil binary attached to characters that stood for emerging social categories in young industrial America. During the Gilded Age (and beyond) the novel played an important role as medium for the labor movement and its opposition – characterizing collective actors, dramatizing forms of action, providing materials for claims of injustice or threats, solutions to social problems, and new categories and collective identities – all with powerful emotional appeal and entertainment value.
Implications – This study suggests that social movement scholars might expand their purview of cultural media used by movements and also take genre and its selection by activists seriously.
Originality – This study demonstrates how literature – realist fiction – has been shaped by movement agents and played an important, but under-appreciated, role in the struggle over cultural supremacy in the context of movement–countermovement dynamics.
While it is generally well known that nonviolent collective action was widely deployed in the US southern civil rights movement, there is still much that we do not know…
While it is generally well known that nonviolent collective action was widely deployed in the US southern civil rights movement, there is still much that we do not know about how that came to be. Drawing on primary data that consist of detailed semistructured interviews with members of the Nashville nonviolent movement during the late 1950s and 1960s, we contribute unique insights about how the nonviolent repertoire was diffused into one movement current that became integral to moving the wider southern movement. Innovating with the concept of serially linked movement schools – locations where the deeply intense work took place, the didactic and dialogical labor of analyzing, experimenting, creatively translating, and resocializing human agents in preparation for dangerous performance – we follow the biographical paths of carriers of the nonviolent Gandhian repertoire as it was learned, debated, transformed, and carried from India to the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and Howard University to Nashville (TN) and then into multiple movement campaigns across the South. Members of the Nashville movement core cadre – products of the Nashville movement workshop schools – were especially important because they served as bridging leaders by serially linking schools and collective action campaigns. In this way, they played critical roles in bridging structural holes (places where the movement had yet to be successfully established) and were central to diffusing the movement throughout the South. Our theoretical and empirical approach contributes to the development of the dialogical perspective on movement diffusion generally and to knowledge about how the nonviolent repertoire became integral to the US civil rights movement in particular.
John Hamilton Bradford completed his dissertation entitled “Systems, Social Order, and the Global Debt Crisis” in 2010 from the University of Tennessee. He has since taught sociology as Lecturer at the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and in Fall 2012 will be joining Mississippi Valley State University's Department of Social Sciences as Assistant Professor. His current research interests include the meaning and function of social scientific explanations, the sociology and political economy of money and finance, formalizing sociological theories with multi-agent computer simulations, and the sociology of environmental risk and policy.
Much ink has been spilled about the selectivity and quality of newspaper data (Earl, Martin, McCarthy, & Soule, 2004; Oliver & Maney, 2000; Ortiz, Myers, Walls, & Diaz, 2005) and we do not intend to rehearse those arguments here. Instead, this volume focuses on pushing research forward by (1) expanding the domains considered in scholarly work and (2) providing a better understanding of the dynamics of social movement media coverage.
Mary Bernstein is Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut. She has published numerous articles in the fields of social movements, identity, sexualities, gender, and law and is coeditor of three books. Recent articles include “What Are You? Explaining Identity as a Goal of the Multiracial Hapa Movement,” “Identity Politics,” and “Culture, Power, and Institutions: A Multi-Institutional Politics Approach to Social Movements” (coauthored with Elizabeth Armstrong) which won the Outstanding Article Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements (2009).