Social Movements, Institutions, and Religion
The careful negotiations the VOTF movement made through mobilization, constructing a collective identity, defining leadership and membership, and selecting strategies provide considerable theoretical insight into the study of religion and social movements. Notably, the context within which the movement operated—a religious, institutional arena—offered its participants a repertoire of movement resources accompanied by a heightened awareness of boundaries around movement behavior. These boundaries can ultimately lead an IISM to replicate the form, tactics, and identity of the target institution. This chapter outlines these theoretical insights, drawing specific attention to the impact of the institutional context as well as to the understudied, multidimensional roles religion (and culture more broadly) can play in social movements.
Voice of the Faithful falls into the camp of “awkward movements” (Poletta 2006) in its mismatch to existing theoretical conceptualizations of social movements. Its examination demonstrates the usefulness of more expansive approaches to defining social movements. Most notably, research on VOTF affirms that social movements can emerge and operate within institutions. Only by expanding a definition of social movements beyond movements targeting the