Resisting the ‘protest business’: bureaucracy, post-bureaucracy and active membership in social movement organizations

Hensby, Alexander and Sibthorpe, Joanne and Driver, Stephen (2012) Resisting the ‘protest business’: bureaucracy, post-bureaucracy and active membership in social movement organizations. Organization, 19 (6). pp. 809-823. ISSN 1350-5084. E-ISSN 1461-7323. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508411423697) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1350508411423697

Abstract

Over the past few decades, the legitimacy of membership-based social movement organizations (SMOs) has been called into question (Bosso, 2005; Jordan and Maloney, 1997, 2007; Putnam, 2000). As professionally-run institutions, SMOs have been accused of a preoccupation with maintaining income through membership marketing at the expense of fostering active participation among their members. In a nutshell, SMOs are seen to be self-serving ‘protest businesses’ which contribute little to social movement activism, and civic engagement in general. Our research into student members of a leading SMO takes issue with this assertion. Whilst organizationally SMOs can appear bureaucratic and impersonal in their marketing strategies, it cannot be assumed that this approach is only capable of attracting passive ‘chequebook activists’. Our findings suggest that younger members feel a sense of loyalty and trust towards the SMO as an effective ‘brand leader’ in its field, though this is by no means unrelenting. As reflexive consumers of activism, members have also grown more accustomed to the flexibilities of emerging post-bureaucratic ‘DIY’ activist groups. In sum, SMOs would benefit from a stronger and more consistent ‘feedback loop’ between the organization and its younger and more active members, as this will help provide scope for greater innovation whilst resisting tendencies towards self-serving ‘bureaucratized activism’.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: N. Gregory
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2014 13:09 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2015 15:35 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/42650 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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