Mangla, Akshay. 2021. “Social conflict on the front lines of reform: Institutional activism and girls’ education in rural India.” Public Administration and Development. https://doi.org/10.1002/pad.1959. How do states realize social reforms for marginalized groups in settings of entrenched inequality? This article argues that reform implementation is a conflict-ridden process driven by the institutional activism of street-level bureaucrats. Through an ethnographic case study of Mahila Samakhya, a novel government program for women’s empowerment in Uttar Pradesh, India, I find that local fieldworkers committed to reform promoted girls’ education by mobilizing marginalized citizens and mediating local conflicts. Organizational processes of gender-based training and deliberation enabled fieldworkers to challenge village patriarchy and exclusion and forge programmatic ties with lower caste women. By altering rules to address the practical needs of households, fieldworkers effectively integrated disadvantaged girls into the education system. Institutional activism also engendered conflicts over rules within the bureaucracy, prompting senior officials to advocate for marginalized groups. The findings suggest that institutional commitment to activism is critical for agencies working on the front lines of reform.
Almeida, Paul, Eugenion Sosa, Allen Cordero Ulate, and Ricardo Argueta. 2021. “Protest Waves and Social Movement Fields: The Micro Foundations of Campaigning for Subaltern Political Parties.” Social Problems. https://doi.org/10.1093/socpro/spab012. The paper examines the individual-level building blocks of getting out the vote (GOTV) for electoral parties that represent subaltern sectors in resource scarce environments. Drawing on theories of protest waves, social movement fields, and threat-induced collective action, we examine the likelihood of campaigning in left party electoral mobilization and party identification. The study implements a modified version of the Caught in the Act of Protest: Contextualizing Contestation (CCC) survey protocol and respondent selection design. We use a sympathy pool sample of over 1,200 May Day participants in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras to explain the micro-foundations of electoral proselytizing of political parties advocating for disadvantaged populations. We found that involvement in left party electoral campaigning was largely driven by resources deposited during anti-neoliberal protest waves, including prior movement-type protest, civic organizational activity, and economic threat perceptions. Campaigning for the anti-neoliberal party was also associated with a higher level of post-election party identification. The findings suggest that left parties may at times partially overcome economic and political resource deficits by mobilizing individuals deeply embedded in the social movement field.
Stephan, Rita. 2019. “Not-So-Secret Weapons: Lebanese Women’s Rights Activists and Extended Family Networks.” Social Problems, Volume 66, Issue 4: 609–625 This study asks one crucial question: How do Lebanese women apply available social capital and informal social networks to engage in political activism for women’s rights? Building on social- and women’s-movement theories, I argue that Lebanese feminists do not exclusively operate in the public sphere in their fight for political goals, nor do they privilege only the extra-family space. On the contrary, they engage in political activities by using extended family networks as a form of weak social ties. I construct this argument on the basis of interviews, observations, and analysis of Lebanese feminists’ writings. This paper introduces the concept of mahsoubieh as a form of weak social ties generated within connective family networks. Specifically, I examine how elite, intellectual, and middle-class Lebanese women activists use the positive social capital generated by mahsoubieh to gain credibility, diffuse their political stances, and develop countervailing power. Aspects such as the size, reputation, and respectability of their kinship networks aided the Lebanese women in their fight to change the legal structure concerning women’s rights and political representation.
Charrad, Mounira M. & Rita Stephan. 2020. “The Power of Presence: Professional Women Leaders and Family Law Reform in Morocco.” Social Politics, Volume 27, Issue 2: 337–360, doi.org/10.1093/sp/jxz013. The 2004 reforms of Islamic family law in Morocco brought about a long-awaited expansion of women’s rights. The Moroccan women’s movement was a key player in the promulgation of the reforms. We highlight the role of professional women leaders in the movement and show how they developed political capital and the “power of presence” by combining (i) professional attainment, (ii) leadership in women’s organizations, and (iii) active participation or positions in politics and civil society. We suggest that more needs to be understood about the implications of women’s education and professional attainment for legal change, especially in the Middle East.
Charrad, Mounira M. & Nicholas Reith. 2019. “Local Solidarities: How the Arab Spring Protests Started.” Mounira M. Charrad & Nicholas Reith. Sociological Forum.34: 1174-1196. doi:10.1111/socf.12543 Coming as a surprise to most observers and following the self‐immolation of a street vendor in a remote town of central Tunisia, the Jasmine Revolution of 2010–2011, the first uprising of the Arab Spring, has often been seen as a success story for digital communication through widespread use of social media. We suggest that this applied to the later phase of the protests in Tunisia but not to the initial phase, which occurred in local areas in impoverished and marginalized regions with highly limited access to the Internet. The initial phase lasted a full 10 days before the protests reached major cities where social media operated. Building on Tilly’s concept of trust network, we offer the concept of local solidarities as key to the beginning of the Arab Spring uprisings and as encompassing spatial proximity, shared marginalized status, and kinship, all of which combined to serve as a basis for trust and collective action.