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Opportunity and Threat: Political Opportunity Structures and the Place of Immigrant Politics

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Abstract:

Drawing on comparative ethnographic data collected during three years of participant observation, I compare social movement organizing among Mexican immigrant communities in two cities in one California county: one more progressive and the other more repressive. Classic studies in the social movement literature associate growing political opportunity—or the signals in the broader environment that encourage or discourage social movement activity—with the emergence of collective mobilization. Building on more recent scholarship that has problematized classic conceptualizations of political opportunity by examining threat and the perception of threat. I argue that threatening political conditions do not necessarily dampen collective mobilization; instead, they give it shape. Organizers working within social movement organizations (SMOs) try to alter immigrants perception of threat by stressing their shared destiny, not because immigrants need to be convinced that threats exist, but to come to see them as actionable. When organizers are able to convince potential immigrant activists of the value and efficacy of collective action, mobilization emerges. The shape that mobilization takes—more contentious or more collaborative—depends on the local political conditions in which these struggles unfold.

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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1009807_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Prieto, Samuel. "Opportunity and Threat: Political Opportunity Structures and the Place of Immigrant Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Chicago and Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, Aug 20, 2015 <Not Available>. 2017-09-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1009807_index.html>

APA Citation:

Prieto, S. G. , 2015-08-20 "Opportunity and Threat: Political Opportunity Structures and the Place of Immigrant Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Chicago and Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois Online <PDF>. 2017-09-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1009807_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Drawing on comparative ethnographic data collected during three years of participant observation, I compare social movement organizing among Mexican immigrant communities in two cities in one California county: one more progressive and the other more repressive. Classic studies in the social movement literature associate growing political opportunity—or the signals in the broader environment that encourage or discourage social movement activity—with the emergence of collective mobilization. Building on more recent scholarship that has problematized classic conceptualizations of political opportunity by examining threat and the perception of threat. I argue that threatening political conditions do not necessarily dampen collective mobilization; instead, they give it shape. Organizers working within social movement organizations (SMOs) try to alter immigrants perception of threat by stressing their shared destiny, not because immigrants need to be convinced that threats exist, but to come to see them as actionable. When organizers are able to convince potential immigrant activists of the value and efficacy of collective action, mobilization emerges. The shape that mobilization takes—more contentious or more collaborative—depends on the local political conditions in which these struggles unfold.


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