Who Belongs?

Kathleen M. Blee

in Democracy in the Making

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199842766
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199951161 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics

Who Belongs?

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  • Social Movements and Social Change


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This chapter explores how emerging activist groups develop an organizational character as they wrestle with issues of belonging, membership, and recruitment. It explains how activist groups decide who they are able to recruit and who they want to recruit, as well as how they create expectations for what members are expected to do. The chapter shows how an early emphasis on recruiting fades away as groups adjust their goals to their existing membership size and become wary of newcomers. The chapter ends with a comparison of a civil liberties and anti-war group that started as a single group with considerable overlap among members. Members of one group developed a sense of responsibility and commitment that sustained them through difficult times. In the other, members played an increasingly minor role in shaping the group=s direction and it quickly lost momentum

Keywords: recruit; membership; belonging; activism; anti-war; civil liberties; organizational character; social movement

Chapter.  12508 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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