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When Do Social Movements Matter? The Politics of Contingency and the Equal Rights Amendment, 1972 – 1982

Soule, Sarah A. and Susan Olzak. 2004. "When Do Social Movements Matter? The Politics of Contingency and the Equal Rights Amendment, 1972--1982." American Sociological Review 69: 473-497.

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Data on the state-level ERA ratification process are used here to address leading theoretical debates about the role of social movements, public opinion, and political climate on policy outcomes, the goal being to test the claim that these factors depend on each other. Social movement organizations, public opinion, and political party support all influenced the ratification process. But the effects are modified when the interactive nature of public opinion and electoral competition, and political party support and movement organizational strength, are tested. In particular, the effect of social movement organizations on ratification was amplified in the presence of elite allies, and legislators responded most to favorable public opinion under conditions of low electoral competition. These findings are used to suggest a more integrated theory of policy outcomes that considers interactive and contingent effects of movements, public opinion, and political climate.

American Sociological Review
2004
Sarah A. Soule