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February 27 , 2009

Patterns of Protest

Trajectories of Participation in Social Movements


Asked to name an activist, many people think of someone like Cesar Chavez or Rosa Parks—someone uniquely and passionately devoted to a cause. Yet, two-thirds of Americans report having belonged to a social movement, attended a protest, or engaged in some form of contentious political activity. Activism, in other words, is something that the vast majority of people engage in. This book examines these more common experiences to ask how and when people choose to engage with political causes.

Corrigall-Brown reveals how individual characteristics and life experiences impact the pathway of participation, illustrating that the context and period in which a person engages are critical. This is the real picture of activism, one in which many people engage, in a multitude of ways and with varying degrees of continuity. This book challenges the current conceptualization of activism and pushes us to more systematically examine the varying ways that individuals participate in contentious politics over their lifetimes.

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