I'm flirting with possible dissertation ideas here. Why here?
Possible dialogue. Force myself to write. Distract and entertain. Inspire...
Organizing for Institutional Change
The Political-Economy of Social Movement Opportunities
Imagine a comparative analysis of local social movements in roughly half-a-dozen U.S. cities. Data would include a qualitative, historical look at each urban context, emphasizing the organization and dominant logics of the cities' major insitutions - e.g., politics and their party organizations and social movements, religion and its churches, the economy and its major employers. We might also collect organizational-level network data for SMOs, their allies, and their foes. Not only would this network data provide interesting research opportunities in its own right, but coupled with the qualitative institutional field-level analysis we could ask important questions about the ability of community movements to adapt to and shape their local institutions.
Let's say that its possible to get travel money. And let's just say (for sake of discussion) that I could also hire a translator or two. Now, take two research sites - Guatemala and Nicaragua - and let's learn everything we can about their respective economies (maybe just their agricultural sectors, to keep things simple) over the past 50 years. Then find key informants in politics, major businesses, major lending organizations (including national banks, IMF, the World Bank), and perhaps religion and education. Using interviews with these people, we could piece together a story of the major economic changes throughout the period and the roles that social movements (or guerrilla groups) played in these changes. A seperate historical analysis of the movements and groups will be necessary to establish the major points of contact between the movements and businesses, associations, political parties, and political leaders. Given these two distinctive contexts, what accounts for a social movement's influence on the local economy?