The Shape of Collective Action in the U.S.
Verta Taylor and Mayer N. Zald
The purpose of this volume has been to make visible the range and many forms of social movement activities, largely in the United States, that attempt to change or channel aspects of health care institutions. From self-help and disease-oriented patient groups, to groups organized to combat toxic environments, to movement-like activities of mobilized professionals, to coalitions of groups organized to change national policies, social movement–like groups interact with and sometimes come into conflict with other movements, professions, and interest groups. They join forces with activist scientists, and attack corporate interests; yet at other times they may coalesce with professional groups and representatives of established interest groups (Frickel and Moore 2005). In some instances, the common-sense distinction between interest groups and movements will make little sense, as both may use similar tactics; so-called interest groups may mobilize on the streets and encourage their constituencies to write to their legislators, and representatives of movements may lobby legislators. Our intent has been to show the varied nature of these movements and to think about their effects and limitations. We also wanted the opportunity to think about the relationship of modern social movement theory to the study of health movements. In the past and still today, students of health movements have written important and interesting papers without finding it useful to use the language and insights of contemporary social movement theory. For their part, many contributors to contemporary social movement theory rarely, if ever, refer to the literature on social movements related to health care. Some of the papers in this volume are couched in the language of contemporary social movement theory as they might be applied in an institutional setting and some are not. Later in this chapter we will suggest how developing this linkage might facilitate our understanding of health social movements and also