Activists in Politics: The Influence of Embedded Activists on the Success of Social Movements

Source: Timo Böhm, Social Problems, Volume 62, Issue 4, November 2015
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From the abstract:
Social movements strive for policy changes that will realize their conception of the “perfect world.” To achieve their aims as rapidly as possible, movements attempt to identify the most effective ways of influencing decision makers. In parliamentary democracies, the central decision makers are political parties. Much of the existing literature emphasizes the use of public pressure and lobbying. To complement this literature, I argue that the intersection between political parties and social movements is also a strong and stable means for activists to influence policy. Using novel microdata on the German antinuclear movement, and particularly its success in influencing the shutdown of nuclear power plants, I demonstrate that movements realize their goals significantly more rapidly when their intersection with political parties increases. My results also suggest that there is a tipping point beyond which the effect of this intersection declines.