Social Movement Impact on Policy Outcomes

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project studies the representation of social movements at committee hearings and their impact on policy outcomes in the twentieth century. We know comparatively little about which social movements appear before a legislature and when they have an impact. This project addresses this gap by collecting data on which social movement organizations are invited to give testimony or are the subject of committee hearings. The result will be a better understanding of which groups get invited, how and when committee hearings are used to investigate social movement mobilization, and a map of the relationships between the different social movements that are represented at hearings. One benefit of this project is a new dataset of broad interest to social scientists studying politics that also builds bridges between existing NSF datasets. Student research assistants will benefit from training in computational social science methods and hands-on research experience with complex data. Finally, understanding how and when a legislature and movements can work together to effectively address social issues will highlight tangible steps citizens can take to aid the policy making process.

Drawing on computational social science methods, a set of systematic data on committee representation for a broad cross section of social movements and associated organizations is constructed in this project. The dataset describes: 1) the population of US social movement organizations' representation as subjects or witnesses before committee hearings over the twentieth century; 2) the committees and subcommittees before which social movement organizations appear; 3) the subjects of the hearings where social movement organizations are represented; 4) details on the other witnesses they testify alongside (e.g. academics, police agents, etc.); and 5) any legislation associated with the hearings. The analysis examines social movements' influence by looking at which social movement organizations gave testimony, on which bills, and at network of connections within and across social movement organizations. Also analyzed are cases of potential repression, in which social movements are the subject of investigative hearings.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date9/1/188/31/21


  • National Science Foundation: $175,433.00


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