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Bridging Movements through Intersectionality: Creating Coalitions between Members of Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights Organizations

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Black men in the U.S. are five times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, while Latino men make up over 90 percent of undocumented deportees (Carson 2018; Gonzalez-Barrera and Krogstad 2016; Golash-Boza 2016). These trends and other oppressive factors have fueled the growth of social movement organizations aimed at immigrant rights and criminal justice reform. Using data from 30 interviews with members of immigrant rights and/or criminal justice groups in Southern California, this research poses the following questions: How do social movement organizations mobilize individuals to participate collectively around immigrant rights and criminal justice reform? And, how does individual identity formation and the structure of an organization condition an individual’s participation in a single-issue (immigrant rights or criminal justice) versus multi-issue organization (immigrant rights and criminal justice)? Findings show that multi-issue organizations mobilize individuals to engage in collective action by emphasizing shared experiences with the judicial system and similarities across state-sponsored oppression, such as deportation and incarceration. In comparison, single-issue organizations are more likely to mobilize members based on a single master status identity (e.g. being undocumented). Findings demonstrate that multi-issue organizations build solidarity among members through shared intersectional interests rather than a single identity. This research reveals the role of intersectionality in building multi-issue social movement through shared experiences and intersectional consciousness.

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