Formal Organizations and Identity Groups in Social Movements

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Journal Article
Human Relations, 2012, 65, (6), pp. 753-776
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Formal organizations advancing the goals of identity-based social movements and identity groups have become increasingly interdependent. The former often lacks legitimacy in the eyes of stakeholders and the latter typically possesses insufficient organizational capacity. In principle, the transfer of ideas and resources between formal organizations in social movements and social identity groups can result in organizational innovation that revives the formal organization while at the same time enhancing the status of the identity group. But in practice, collaborations between formal organizations and identity groups often result in identity groups being overpowered by formal organizations. This article compares outcomes for identity groups in two cases of trade unions adopting the causes of identity-based social movements to examine the role of organizational processes in explaining outcomes for identity group members. The findings from the comparative cases analyzed here suggest that identity group members must be able to influence organizational processes in order to impact how they are incorporated into the formal organization. © The Author(s) 2012.
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