Managing Democracy in Social Movement Organizations

Source: Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, Volume 14 Issue 2, 2015
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From the abstract:
Leaders are crucial to social movement mobilization and maintenance. They often experience conflict between a value for inclusive engagement and a sense that they are moving efficiently toward their organizations’ goals. This study draws on a multisite ethnography to suggest two mechanisms through which leaders may resolve this conflict: staging (manipulating organizational procedures) and scripting (using language to reinforce these procedures). Resolving tension in this way often leaves the leader in control of organizational processes and outcomes, and has the unintended effect of stifling the actual process of democratic participation. This study emphasizes the culturally embedded inertia of the democratic ideal and highlights a particular set of tactics for democracy management. It is proposed that these mechanisms might be helpfully applied to a growing literature on inclusive engagement in contemporary associational forms as well as a range of other institutional contexts.