Special Issue: Political Ethnography II

Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 467-484

First online:

Voice and Agency in Social Movement Outcomes

  • Kimberly DuganAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Eastern Connecticut State University Email author 
  • , Jo RegerAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Anthropology, Oakland University

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Focusing on the interactional dynamics of movements, we find that two constructs, voice and agency are critical to the development of a sense of “groupness” and can aid social movement actors in accomplishing desired goals. Voice and agency are accomplished when movement actors engage in various processes such as planning and strategizing, completion of goal-oriented tasks and other unifying activities. We examine four social movement organizations operating in separate movement contexts with different outcomes: contested gay politics in Cincinnati, Ohio and grassroots feminism in Cleveland, Ohio and New York City, New York. We find that groups will have a better chance at achieving their goals if members are able to create a unified voice, and if leaders include and draw from the strengths of those they recruit, thus allowing a sense of agency.


Agency Voice Movement organizations Outcomes