Collaborative Research on the Dynamics of Collective Protest in the U. S., 1950-1995

Project: Research project

Project Details



John McCarthy

This grant is collaborative with Susan Olzak (SES-9911296) The research test arguments about social movements and collective action that address theories of political opportunity structure, tactical dynamics, and inter-movement competition. A longitudinal data set generated from newspaper reports of protest events and covariant data sets will be constructed to capture relevant dimensions of the broader social, cultural and political context of social movements and collective action in the U.S. Phase I of the project (also funded by NSF) consisted of developing a reliable coding scheme that captures the details of protest event reports, and identifying and coding all protest events report in New York Times between 1960-1980. The resultant database of over 10,000 protest events contains general society-wide indicators on three social movement areas: The Women's, Environmental and Peace Movements. This initial phase of the project focused on the role of political opportunity in the different patterns of protest in the three movements. For example, preliminary analyses suggests that the timing of Women'' movement protest in the U.S. is strongly related to the timing of national congressional hearings on women's issues, consistent with a political opportunity interpretation.

This project, phase II, will employ the standard methodology developed in the initial phase to add new indicators and examine the 1950-59 and 1981-1995 periods. The project will explore casual mechanisms and social processes affecting the trajectory of public protest. This includes its intensity, varying tactical dimensions, location, proximity of target and diffusion of its pace and tactics across time, space and social movements. The longer period of data on protests will allow one to adequately analyze shifts in macro-level forces of change and opportunity with a variety of appropriate methods.

Effective start/end date5/1/004/30/03


  • National Science Foundation: $150,001.00


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