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Activist participation, mobilization and movement - media interactions : three studies of the British Columbia environmental movement Malinick, Todd Edward

Abstract

In recent decades, social movements have been one of the most productive avenues of sociological inquiry. Environmental movements in particular have received significant attention from movement scholars. This manuscript-based dissertation contains five chapters examining different theoretical propositions relating to a single social movement: the environmental movement to protect old growth forests of British Columbia, Canada, during the highly contentious 1990s. An introductory chapter provides a background discussion and brief literature review; a concluding chapter summarizes the results and discusses how the individual manuscripts tie together. In between, three studies test and extend theoretical propositions concerning the roles of sociodemographics, values, social networks, framing, and movement-media interactions, as they relate to this particular social movement. The first study compares and contrasts the environmental movement and its pro-forestry countermovement in terms of sociodemographic and value-based factors affecting participation. A significant contribution from this manuscript is the atypical treatment of ‘participation’— instead of simply taking group membership or rates of involvement in group sponsored activities as indicators of ‘participation’, both aspects are explored, revealing different underlying processes. This study also challenges the existing premise that postmaterialism is a strictly environmental value, showing members of the countermovement also possess strong postmaterialist values. Social movement researchers have long touted the significance of social networks in facilitating the mobilization process. The conventional wisdom is that ties to existing activists increases the likelihood of recruitment into movements, fostering greater levels of participation. The second study tests an adapted version of a well-accepted model of social movement mobilization (Klandermans and Oegema 1987; Kiandermans 2004), emphasizing multiple possible pathways to mobilization, highlighting the role media exposure plays in the recruitment process. The third study focuses on media coverage of social movements by examining how certain factors (gender, leadership, radicalism, and social network centrality) affected the likelihood that an activist was cited in the print-news media. This analysis is innovative in linking network and frame analysis. Results show that the network centrality of the activist is the strongest predictor of rates of citation. This result counters some existing explanations concerning the way media covers social movement activities.

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