New Book: Identify work in Social Movements

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at
Fri Oct 3 11:21:38 CDT 2008

[ed:  thanks to Heidi foe continuing the discussion.]

From: swarts at

Dear Betty,
the one response I have for you is a guess: that the civil rights movement
has been written about more than any other social movement of the 20th
century. While work that consciously examines identity formation is only a
subset of that vast body of work, I think a lot of the work does treat the
topic: for instance, change of identity from nonviolent pacifists and
church members to a masculinist black power identity. The literature on
leadership in the movement has to do with gender identity; women were
obscured as leaders and created new identities as different kinds of
leaders, modeled after Ella Baker (see Belinda Robnett on women as bridge
leaders, Charles Payne's article on Baker in SIGNS). Most recently I think
of Francesca Polletta's book FREEDOM IS AN ENDLESS MEETING, chapter on
SNCC, and other work by her on how at first, participatory democracy
emphasizing equality in decision-making was seen as black (in SNCC) and
then later, after Black Power, it became seen as quintessentially white!!
She has an article on this, I believe, or a book chapter. And these are
just a few of the examples I can think of. Just the work on helping
southern blacks change their self-perceptions from powerless to powerful,
and how that was done also fits this topic. So there's a ton of work.

Heidi Swarts, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Political Science
Rutgers University-Newark
Hill Hall Room 727
360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Newark, NJ 07102-1801
tel. 973-353-5988
fax 973-353-5103
swarts at

Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
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> [ed:  apologies to Betty for the delay in getting her reply out. 
> Discussion welcome.]
> From: "Betty G. Robinson" <bgrobinson at>
> Hi Randy, et. al., thanks for the note about this new book.
> I looked at this table of contents and unless I am not seeing correctly 
> what is included in the essays, I did not see a single essay on the 
> civil rights movement.  How could they not have an analysis of this all 
> important movement which would help us understand the demands of an 
> oppressed group which sought to transform its "identity"  in the process 
> of the movement and also made significant contributions to the women's 
> and gay movements?
> Betty G. Robinson
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Discussion list for COMM
> Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
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>> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
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>> [ed: Congratulations to Jo, Daniel, and Rachel. COMM-ORG would welcome
>> a review of this book to post on the website, but does not procure books 
>> for reviewers.]
>> From: Heather Skinner <skinn077 at>
>> Jo Reger, Daniel J. Myers, and Rachel L. Einwohner, Editors
>> University of Minnesota Press | 328 pages | 2008
>> ISBN 978-0-8166-5139-9 | hardcover | $75.00
>> ISBN 978-0-8166-5140-5 | paperback | $25.00
>> Social Movements, Protest, and Contention Series, volume 30
>> Movements for social change are by their nature oppositional, as are 
>> those who join change movements. This volume offers new scholarship that 
>> explores how people negotiate identity within social movements and 
>> examines issues of diversity and uniformity among social movement 
>> participants.
>> Contributors: Mary Bernstein, Kimberly B. Dugan, Elizabeth Kaminski, 
>> Susan Munkres, Kevin Neuhouser, Benita Roth, Silke Roth, Todd Schroer, 
>> Verta Taylor, Jane Ward.
>> "Scholarship on collective identity has tended to under-theorize issues 
>> of difference and conflict-Identity Work in Social Movements remedies 
>> that lack beautifully. A significant and unique collection."-Nancy 
>> Whittier, Smith College
>> For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book's 
>> webpage:
>> For more information on the Social Movements, Protest, and Contention 
>> Series:
>> Sign up to receive news on the latest releases from University of 
>> Minnesota Press:
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