Advisor(s)

Gloria Barczak

Contributor(s)

Daniel Faber, Jeffrey S. Juris

Date of Award

1-2014

Date Accepted

10-2013

Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department or Academic Unit

College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Law and Public Policy Program.

Keywords

diversity, environmentalism, framing, Petroleum, Pipeline, social movements

Disciplines

Environmental Policy | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy

Abstract

In 2011, stakeholders with differing objectives formed an alliance to oppose the Keystone XL heavy oil pipeline. The alliance, which came to be known as "Tar Sands Action," implemented various strategies, some of which were more successful than others. Tar Sands Action was a largely heterogeneous alliance that included indigenous tribes, environmentalists, ranchers, landowners, and trade unions, making it one of the more diverse social movement organizations in history. Each of these stakeholder categories had distinct demographic structures, representing an array of racial, ethnic, educational, occupational, and political backgrounds. Participants also had differing policy objectives that included combating climate change and protecting jobs, agricultural interests, water resources, wildlife, and human health.

The current dissertation examines the Tar Sands Action movement to understand how heterogeneous social movement organizations mobilize supporters, maintain alliances, and create effective frames to achieve policy objectives. A multi-stakeholder analysis of the development, evolution and communication of frames concerning the Keystone XL controversy provides insight into the role of alliances, direct action, and the news media in challenging hegemonic frames.

Previous research has ignored the potential value that SMO heterogeneity provides by treating social movements as culturally homogenous. However, diversity has been shown to affect performance in business organizations. The current study demonstrates that under some circumstances, diversity can also improve policy outcomes. Moreover, policy frames are shown to be more effective in sustaining news media and public interest through a process the author calls dynamic frame sequencing (DFS). DFS refers to a process implementing different stakeholder frames at strategically opportune moments.

Finally, Tar Sands Action was one of the first SMOs to rely heavily on social media to build alliances, disseminate information, and mobilize support. This study adds to a growing body of research that considers the emerging role of social media in protest movements.

Document Type

Dissertation

Rights Holder

David T. A. Wesley

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