Coalition Work in the Pro-Choice Movement: Organizational and Environmental Opportunities and Obstacles

  • Staggenborg S
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This paper examines inter-organizational cooperation and competition in the abortion rights, or pro-choice, movement. Drawing on documents and interviews with activists from 13 movement organizations and six coalitions formed nationally and in Illinois between 1966 and 1983. I show that coalitions are likely to form under conditions of exceptional opportunity or threat. Individual pro-choice organizations also formed coalitions when they lacked the resources to meet environmental opportunities or threats, or when such coalition work allowed them to conserve resources for their own individual programs. On the other hand, ideological conflicts and competition between the maintenance needs of individual organizations versus those of coalitions led to coalition dissolution. I also found that tensions within coalitions were alleviated by external funding and/or aid from established organizations, by an organizational structure which allowed for different levels of contributions from organizations with varying interests in the work of the coalition, and by a continued focus on activities (e.g., lobbying) which are too expensive for any one movement organization to carry out alone.

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  • Suzanne Staggenborg

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