Qualitative fieldwork methods, particularly participant observation, afford a close-up look at the dynamics of social movements, allowing researchers to directly observe processes such as strategic decision making and the creation of social movement communities. Extended fieldwork allows us to see how movements and organizations change over time. This article reports on the value of long-term participant observation in a study of grassroots environmentalism in Pittsburgh. I show how the method increases our understanding of how and why people get involved in the movement; the importance of tactics in mobilization; and the challenges of organizing and developing strategy in movement organizations. The study compares organizations that vary by structure and ideology and points to the importance of looking at the multiple and lasting impacts of movement actions and campaigns. The article also notes some of the difficulties of fieldwork, the desirability of team research and multimethod studies, and suggestions for future research.

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