Studies of the impact of social movements on government policy usually assume that the most effective strategy to win a reform is to directly pressure the elected politicians responsible for its legislation and implementation. We highlight an alternative, less intuitive way in which movements can exert political influence: by targeting the corporate and institutional adversaries of their proposed reforms. Such targeting can undermine their adversaries' ability or commitment to oppose the changes, thus relaxing the contrary pressure applied to politicians and reducing the resistance within government to progressive reform. We support this proposition by highlighting five instances in which mass pressure applied to institutional adversaries contributed to government policy change. Our analysis demonstrates that mass protest targeting large institutions whose leaders are not elected can be an effective and even primary strategy for compelling elected officials to enact and implement progressive policy change.
A Neglected Mechanism of Social Movement Political Influence: The Role of Anticorporate and Anti-Institutional Protest in Changing Government Policy
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Kevin Young, Michael Schwartz; A Neglected Mechanism of Social Movement Political Influence: The Role of Anticorporate and Anti-Institutional Protest in Changing Government Policy. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 1 September 2014; 19 (3): 239–260. doi: https://doi.org/10.17813/maiq.19.3.91h76wxr70674775
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