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Review: Civil Society and the State

Author(s): McGee Young

Review by: McGee Young
Source: International Studies Review, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 312-314
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3699606
Accessed: 11-06-2015 12:38 UTC

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InternationalStudiesReview (2004) 6, 312-314

Civil Society and the State


Departmentof Political Science, MarquetteUniversity

States, Parties, and Social Movements. Edited by Jack Goldstone. New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2003. 312 pp., $70.00 cloth (ISBN: 0-521-81679-3), $25.00 paper (ISBN:
Among the many undertilled fields in political science, few are in as much need of
cultivation as the study of the relationship between political associations and the
state. Even though particular types of interactions have been analyzed at length,
such as the role of political opportunity structures in mediating social movement
success, other types of interactions, in particular those that would constitute "normal politics," have received less attention. If political parties are thrown into the
mix, the literature gap is even more evident. Fortunately, Jack Goldstone's new
edited volume-States,
the various types
Parties, and Social Movements-illuminates
of interactions among social movement organizations, political parties, and the state
in both Western democracies and in non-Western nations-democratic
and otherwise. Perhaps even more exciting, this fine collection of essays reflects the research of a younger set of scholars who stand poised to build on the intellectual
contributions of their forebears.
Goldstone frames the collection with a thoughtful opening essay that elucidates
the central claim common to each of the essays: "social movements constitute an
essential element of normal politics in modern societies, and ... there is only a fuzzy
and permeable boundary between institutionalized and noninstitutionalized politics" (p. 2). This claim stands in contrast with much of the literature on social
movement activity. Conventional wisdom heralds that it is precisely because of a
noninstitutionalized relationship between an aggrieved group and the state that
social movement organizations form in the first place. Once a relationship becomes
institutionalized, the need for a social movement organization dissipates, as does the
type of political behavior typical of excluded groups.
Not so, argues Goldstone. In fact, in several situations an ongoing relationship
might develop between social movement organizations and state institutions. For
example, associational politics provides citizens with an opportunity to influence
political decisions between electoral cycles. Social movement activity can also enhance the visibility of particular issues, acting as an agenda setting mechanism.
Social movement organizations may even act as a watchdog over the implementation of particular government programs or, conversely, warn of efforts to undermine existing political commitments. Finally, social movement activity may change
the context of elections by making particular issues salient among the electorate
and forcing candidates to address them. Even in nondemocratic contexts, social
movements can challenge orthodox politics by introducing expectations of greater
rights for citizens or increased openness by the government. Goldstone's framework sets a high standard for the essays, each of which in its own way illuminates
"how social movements influence states and parties, and how states and parties
shape and influence social movements" (p. 12).
One drawback to States, Parties, and Social Movements is the bifurcation of the
essays into two categories. The first set of essays is seen as addressing the relation? 2004 International Studies Review.
Published by Blackwell Publishing, 350 Main Street, Malden, MAO22148, USA, and 9600Garsington

Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.

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ship between states and social movements; the second set of essays considers the
effects of social movements on political parties. The rationale for this dichotomy is
not explained, nor does it seem warranted given the content of the essays and the
intellectual project at hand. As Paul Burstein (1998) has argued, the similarities
between what he calls interest organizations and political parties often outweigh the
differences between the two types of organizations. Political parties and social
movement organizations are but two types of intermediary organizations that link
citizens to state institutions.
Indeed, the essays in this volume are at their strongest when they incorporate
both political parties and the state into their analysis of social movement activity. For
example, Jorge Cadena-Roa explains, in a superior essay, that democratization in
Mexico was mediated through the party system and state institutional structures.
The election of Vincente Fox in 2000 marked the culmination of decades of incremental reforms, vigilant opposition by unco-optable social movement organizations, and the development of political parties capable of challenging the
hegemonic ruling party (that is, the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI). The
centrality of political parties in Cadena-Roa's account of state development is striking. Mexican social movement organizations and their strategies and tactics were
clearly shaped by the institutionalized power held by the ruling party.
Other essays in the volume would have benefited from a more robust account of
the importance of both state institutions and political parties. Nella Van Dyke, for
example, argues that party leaders have inspired political protests on college campuses. Sympathetic Democratic state legislators and threatening Republican national leaders (presidents in particular) increase the likelihood of student protests.
Van Dyke's data set includes protests from 1930 to 1990 on select campuses in nine
states and uses the Democratic Party as a proxy variable to measure the presence of
elite support for protest activity. One wonders, however, whether Democrats in the
Mississippi state legislature would provide a different type of support for protests (if
at all) than would Democrats in the California state legislature. Even though, as Van
Dyke points out, V.O. Key (1964) did show that Democrats have been more liberal
than Republicans, Key (1949) also suggested that great variability exists between
Democrats in different states owing in large part to institutional differences. More
recently, Martin Shefter (1994) and Elisabeth Clemens (1997) have demonstrated
that great variability in state institutional structures can account for different levels
and types of political participation.
Joseph Luders takes the opposite tack from Van Dyke, arguing that countermobilization to civil rights efforts between 1954 and 1965 was a direct reflection of state
support. For example, in North Carolina, Governors Luther Hodges and Terry
Sanford kept close tabs on Ku Klux Klan activities and warned the Klan against
violence. In Louisiana, on the other hand, a special committee of the state legislature absolved the Klan, describing them as a " 'political action group' with 'a
certain Halloween spirit' " (p. 37). Variability between southern states is seen as a
product of political decisions made by state leaders as to whether to tolerate violence against civil rights advocates. Luders rightly argues that "social movement
theory must be refined to better encompass the complex relationship among state
actors, movements, and countermovements" (p. 44). However, Luders's account
would have benefited from a treatment of political party structures such as the one
contained in the essay by Cadena-Roa. The political decisions that southern Democrats made regarding civil rights protesters were clearly informed by electoral
pressures and mediated through political party organizations, not just state institutions.
Even in transitions from Communism, such as in Czechoslovakia, where John K.
Glenn argues that "movements are transformed by governing and ... the parties
that emerge from movements do not necessarily conform to standard notions
of political parties," a complicated relationship exists between state institutions,

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Civil Society and the State

political party organizations, and social movements. The partitioning of Czechoslovakia reflected a particular institutional settlement of political differences that
had been exacerbated by the participation of nongovernmental organizations in the
immediate post-Communist years. Substantial state development occurred that was
directly linked to the social movements that had organized against Communism
and the political parties that had organized in the wake of the Communist collapse.
This type of interactive relationship between associations, parties, and the state lies
at the heart of the intellectual effort advanced by the contributors to this volume.
One only wishes that the relationships were made more consistently explicit across
all the essays.
States, Parties, and Social Movements is relevant to a wide range of scholars, particularly those interested in associational politics and political development. To the
extent that it incorporates social movements, political parties, and the state into a
single framework, this volume is an extremely valuable contribution. But it should
be thought of as a point of departure rather than a culmination of research. Each of
these scholars raises interesting and important questions that challenge existing
theoretical assumptions in a way that merit further attention. Individually, their
works exemplify the type of research that is valuable both for its content and its
conceptual framework. Collectively, the work of this new generation of scholars
forecasts outstanding research in the years to come.

(1998) InterestOrganizations,PoliticalParties,and the Studyof DemocraticPolitics.

In Social Movementsand AmericanPoliticalInstitutions,edited by Anne Costain and Andrew

McFarland.Lanham,MD: Rowmanand Littlefield.
andtheRiseof InterestGroup
S. (1997) ThePeople's
Politicsin the UnitedStates,1890-1925. Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress.
KEY,V. O., JR.(1949) SouthernPoliticsin Stateand Nation.New York:Knopf.
KEY,V. O., JR.(1964) Politics,Parties,and PressureGroups.5th ed. New York:Crowell.
SHEFTER, MARTIN.(1994) PoliticalPartiesand theState.Princeton:PrincetonUniversityPress.

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