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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Solidarity Coalition : the struggle for common cause Nelson, Patricia Ann


This thesis is a case study of the Solidarity Coalition, a social protest movement which united labour and community groups In opposition to right-wing restraint legislation. It considers why this unprecedented extra parliamentary force failed to persuade the government to withdraw the offending legislation and attempts to explain the dominance of the labour agenda in the modest successes it did achieve. Interviews with participants in the Coalition and other significant political actors provide the information used in the analysis of this protest phenomena. The thesis incorporates a detailed study of the evolution of the Coalition and its organizational structure and Internal processes within the context of the larger political system and with reference to theoretical literature concerning protest movements. I argue that the emergence of the Coalition as a diverse and broad based movement in reaction to a right wing attack on the social contract is predictable, however, the outcomes of the protest action are less so. Analysis of the Coalition suggests that organizational contradictions within its structure, external and unforseen circumstances, and the strength of government intransigence were influential factors shaping both the development of the protest movement and the outcomes of its actions. The commitment to common cause, fuelled by moral outrage and espoused by labour and community groups, was not sufficient to withstand the divisive tendencies inherent in the structure of the Coalition, or the Inertia that must be overcome by large groups to achieve collective goods. Labour proved to be the more powerful actor within the Coalition due to its financial and organizational resources and its significant noticeabilIty factor as a member of the CoalItion. I argue that consistent with the theory of the logic of collective action that the labour agenda eventually dominated within the Coalition, influencing the parameters of the settlement achieved, and in part, accounting for the failure of the Coalition to meet Its collective goal of withdrawal of the restraint legislation.

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