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“Undocumented and Citizen Students Unite”


Social movement coalitions present unique opportunities and challenges for collective action as they bring together organizations, movements, and individuals who hold diverse interests and social positions. The literature suggests that collective identity and shared ideology both offer opportunities for bridging these differences, but few have addressed their relative utility. Drawing on a case study of a university-based coalition of undocumented and citizen students working to build support for the federal DREAM Act, I find that a social justice ideology was used to facilitate fast-paced recruitment, create simplified participation guidelines based on legal status, and allow for the strategic renegotiation of participation. I argue that building a cross-status coalition through a shared ideology has two key advantages: (1) it allows for fast-paced coalition formation and (2) it promotes the mobilization and commitment of organizations and individuals who occupy different identities and social locations. Additionally, I suggest that conflict among members can be best negotiated through the development of discursive and interactive spaces that allow individuals to engage across their different social locations. Keywords: social movements; coalitions; ideology; immigrant rights; undocumented youth. © 2014 by Society for the Study of Social Problems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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