Abeyance structures

“The concept of abeyance was developed by Taylor (1989) to offer a model to explain social movement continuity, using a case study of feminism in the United States between the first and second waves. Abeyance is a holding pattern in which activists reproduce the ideology of a movement, and maintain its structures, without being highly active and visible in public spaces (Bagguley 2002, 170).”  (from here)

Antinomian Movements

Groups of people who seek to change social conditions they deplore by repudiating or violating social or legal codes they assume have caused the deplored conditions.

Barricades (irrelevant, but fun trivia)

“Henri had ordered his troops to enter Paris against the chance that the arrival of the enormously popular and ultra-Catholic Duke of Guise would incite unrest. Their deployment prompted precisely the result it was intended to forestall. Parisians, enraged at this armed intrusion, followed the instructions of Cosse de Brissac and reinforced the chain barriers by heaping earth and paving stones into wooden barrels (or barriques, in the French of that day, whence the term barricades). The Royal Guards suddenly found themselves isolated in small units. With their lines of communication broken, they became highly vulnerable to the barricade-builders who had so quickly asserted control over the capital. After initial collisions in which a few guardsmen were killed and many others disarmed, the troops- and eventually the king himself- were forced to withdraw from the city.” Traugott in Traugott

Biographical Availability

EF! actions often demand that you are in your 20s or early 30s, physically fit, with no kids, mortgage or ‘real’ job, and are willing to get nicked. Obviously not every EF!er fits into that, but most do. That is ‘biographical availability.’


Noisy musical and carnival-esque demos go way back. Compare with today’s Samba. For interesting account of dance’s importance: McNeill ‘Keeping Together in Time’


“By the 1820s political organizers and public authorities were clearly negotiating agreements about street demonstrations, although the word itself gained currency only in the 1830s. (The term apparently leaped almost immediately from its military version, a deliberate show of force for intimidation of potential opponents, to a civilian analog.)”Tilly in Traugott

Friendship Networks

“… initiator movements encourage the rise of latecomers not so much by granting other groups increased leverage with which to press their claims, but by setting in motion complex diffusion processes by which the ideational, tactical, and organizational “lessons” of the early risers are made available to subsequent challengers.” McAdam in Traugott

Skills share from these, formalised through Blatant Incitement Project etc.

Frames of Reference and ‘Discursive Repertoires’

(Sometimes equals speaking Truth to Power, on its terms…)

“Much as any challenging group has a limited action repertoire, so too does it have a limited discursive repertoire. Constrained by the hegemonic talk of the powerholders, this counter-hegemony is generally piecemeal, with challengers often appropriating at the margins. They seize upon silences and contradictions in moral justifications of domination and negate or reverse those points in the dominant discourses. Akin to instrumental repertoires, discursive repertoires are relatively stable and recurrent.” Steinberg in Traugott

“Movements… are “actively engaged in the production of meaning for participants…. They frame, or assign meaning to and interpret, relevant events and conditions in ways that are intended to mobilize potential adherents.” Finally, Gamson (1992) has sought to extend the framing concept by distinguishing between what he sees as the three principle components of any “collective action frame”. Gamson labels these three components a)injustice frames, b) agency frames, and c) identity frames. Injustice frames define some aspect of life not simply as illegitimate but as affectively intolerable. Agency frames offer an account of how the group can effect change in the offending condition(s). And the identity frame offers the group an altered- often dramatically so- collective vision of itself.” McAdam in Traugott

Initiator and Spin-Off Movements

“The first category consists of those rare, but exceedingly important, initiator movements that signal or otherwise set in motion an identifiable protest cycle. Historical examples of such movements would include Solidarity in Poland and the American civil rights movement. The second and more “populous” category of movements includes those spin-off movements that, in varying degrees, draw their impetus and inspiration from the original initiator movement.” McAdam in Traugott

Issue attention cycle

Devised by an American, this framework seeks to show how ‘issues’ come before the public and then disappear from view. It needs to be considered alongside Herman and Chomsky’s media filters model…

1. Pre- problem stage

2. Alarmed discovery and euphoric optimism

3. Realising the cost of significant progress

4. Gradual decline of intense public interest

5. Post-problem stage- prolonged limbo.

For a discussion of this, and critique of its limitations, see Robinson 2000. In the meantime, don’t be depressed that individual ‘issues’ drop off the radar without having been solved. Joe and Jane Punter may well have been ‘softened up’ by seeing the problems in the system. Every unsolved problem adds a little more doubt, fritters away a little more trust in the system and its legitimacy, in the way that Blair has lost the trust he had in 1997. Whether this ever reaches critical mass, and whether the crisis would be resolved in favour of ecological and social justice rather than some nasty fascist response is partly up to us.

Multiorganisational Field

Movements and their constituent parts interact with other bodies and influences within a ‘multiorganisational field’,itself composed of ‘conflict and alliance systems’ (Klandermans 1992, 1997). Movement leadership can only be adequately grasped as a dynamic process, carried out in social contexts where others also strategise, opposing and aiding movement projects, and compelling movement re-thinking and re-organising (Ellingson 1995).


How new people get drawn into the movement. It’s almost never from the brilliance of our rhetoric, but via friends/acquaintances. Unfortunately, we can scare a lot of people away, though at least we don’t piss them off by trying to ‘recruit’ them.

Submerged networks

“The second concept is Melucci’s (1989, 1996) concept of submerged networks. Submerged networks are made up of the relationships between participants in social movements that are hidden from public view, through which people communicate and exchange information with each other, while also negotiating a collective identity and developing a sense of belonging (Melucci 1996).” (from here)


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