Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social Movements and Public Policy: Eggs, Chicken, and Theory


The content and the process of making policy serve as both stimuli and outcomes of social movements. Understanding these relationships, that is, how policy and citizen movements affect each other, is essential to understanding the functioning of contemporary democratic politics and indeed, the democratic process more broadly. Although scholars of both social movements and of public policy have acknowledged the importance of the others' work, they have not gone much beyond acknowledgment. Unfortunately, this leaves fundamental issues in the study of political participation and influence underdeveloped theoretically and understudied empirically. In this paper, I offer a dialogic model of the mutual influence of protest and policy, which emphasizes the interaction of activist efforts and the policy process, and the dynamics of political coalitions inside and outside established political institutions. Focused attention to the theoretical and practical problems of understanding the relationship between policy and movements.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View