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How Social Movements Die


  • 27 b/w illus. 2 tables
  • Page extent: 366 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.71 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 323.1196/0730904
  • Dewey version: 23
  • LC Classification: E185.615 .D3837 2015
  • LC Subject headings:
    • African Americans--Political activity--History--20th century
    • Black militant organizations--United States--History--20th century
    • Social movements--United States--History--20th century

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9781107041493)

How do social movements die? Some explanations highlight internal factors like factionalization, whereas others stress external factors like repression. Christian Davenport offers an alternative explanation where both factors interact. Drawing on organizational, as well as individual-level, explanations, Davenport argues that social movement death is the outgrowth of a coevolutionary dynamic whereby challengers, influenced by their understanding of what states will do to oppose them, attempt to recruit, motivate, calm, and prepare constituents while governments attempt to hinder all of these processes at the same time. Davenport employs a previously unavailable database that contains information on a black nationalist/secessionist organization, the Republic of New Africa, and the activities of authorities in the US city of Detroit and state and federal authorities.

• Utilizes new, disaggregated, micro-foundational, and organizational data • Analyzes material via innovative and dynamic theory • Discusses a previously unknown history concerning an African American social movement organization and the extensiveness of the state repression directed against it


Introduction; Part I. Theory: 1. Killing social movements from the outside or the inside; 2. Killing social movements from the outside and the inside; Part II. Case: 3. Repression and red squads; 4. Record keeping and data collection; Part III. Origins: 5. We shall overcome?: From GOAL to the Freedom Now Party; 6. We shall overthrow!: from the Malcolm X Society to the Republic of New Africa; Part IV. Examination: 7. Birth of a black nation; 8. To Ocean Hill–Brownsville and b(l)ack; 9. New Bethel and the end of the beginning; 10. When separatists separate; 11. Mississippi: the last stand(off); Part V. Conclusion: 12. Understanding the death of social movement organizations.


'Marshalling insightful analysis, brilliant archival research, and extensive knowledge, Davenport explains the emergence, growth, and demise of social movements. This book is a real gem.' Scott Gates, Peace Research Institute Oslo and Norwegian University of Science and Technology

'Through a meticulous analysis of a single case - the Republic of New Africa - Christian Davenport presents us with new theoretical insights into the external forces and internal dynamics that can eventually lead to the demise of a social movement organization that at its inception was at the forefront of a broader movement. His analysis of archival information on both overt and covert forms of state repression as well as his scrupulous analysis of RNA internal documents present us with innovative methods and novel lessons for the study of how social movement organizations emerge and eventually die.' T. David Mason, University of North Texas

'Through a fascinating case study of the Republic of New Africa, Christian Davenport brings his expertise on political repression to bear on a question that has, oddly, been largely neglected by scholars: how and why do social movements die? Drawing on unusually rich data that take us inside the thought processes of movement actors as well as their opponents, Davenport offers deep insight into both the rise and demise of social movement organizations.' Rory McVeigh, University of Notre Dame

'There is a great deal to admire about this book from its astonishingly rich data and thorough analysis to its clear theorizing about an important and nettlesome issue in the study of repression (What are the consequences of repression?) to its call for research on demobilization.' American Journal of Sociology

'… the book will be useful for scholars interested in demobilization of social movement organizations or the general impact of state repression on movements, organizations, and individuals.' Ahsan Kamal, Oxford University Press Journals: Social Forces

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