Collaborative Research: Accounting for the Emergence, Persistence, and Media Coverage of Social Action Organizations

Project: Research project

Project Details



Patrick Rafail

Tulane University


John McCarthy

University of Southern California

In this project we aim to complete the collection of a six year time series of social action mobilization occurring between 2009 and 2014. Building on the results from previous research, we propose to address three important theoretical questions: The first aims to understand what social structural variation (e.g. income inequality, rates of unemployment) across U.S. states and local communities increases the likelihood that social action will occur and recur. The second asks what community contexts facilitate the founding of social action organization as well as the factors influencing the organizational linkages and survival of these groups over time. Third, we ask which factors influence the intensity, tone, and content of newspaper coverage of such groups.

To address these questions, we will assemble a database of social action events as well as organizational foundings, other local activities such as meetings or demonstrations, and organization survival by combining multiple sources of data including internet listings, systematic searches of 432 local newspapers, and content coding of newspaper stories of covered events. We will then geographically situate each event and organization, which will be linked to a larger database of social structural indicators, information on election cycle outcomes, and newspaper characteristics. Statistical approaches to modeling the processes will include hierarchical regression, survival analysis, web scraping, text mining, and natural language processing.

Broader Impact

The proposed project has enormous potential for having broader impact in several ways. First, it will provide a comprehensive, systematic analysis of social action groups. Second, we will create a public use data set to allow diverse additional investigations of the causes and consequences of social action group mobilization from a wide variety of perspectives beyond our own. And, finally, we will be able to chronicle these social movements from infancy into maturity as well as signs of their decline.

Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $168,273.00


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