Studies in Leadership: Leadership and Democratic Action

By Alvin W. Gouldner | Go to book overview

Leadership and New Social Movements1

BY SEYMOUR M. LIPSET

THE EMERGENCE of an electorally successful socialist party, the Coöperative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.), in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, presents the possibility of studying the leadership pattern of a new social movement in a contemporary North American setting. 2 Various people have suggested that the nucleus of the leadership of a social movement comes from the marginal groups in the population, i.e., the more economically, socially, or personally maladjusted sections. 3 It is these groups who should--the hypothesis

____________________
1
The data for this previously unpublished paper were collected during 1945- 46 on a pre-doctoral field fellowship of the Social Science Research Council.
2
In Saskatchewan the C.C.F. won an electoral majority in 1944, just thirteen years after it was first organized. The party in that year secured 53 percent of the total popular vote, and had a total dues-paying membership of over 30,000, 8 percent of the electorate. It is a rural protest party with an agrarian socialist ideology, very similar to that of the Non Partisan League, which won power in North Dakota, Saskatchewan's southern neighbor, shortly after World War I. Like the earlier Non Partisan League, the C.C.F. developed as a response of prairie wheat farmers to the coercions of a fluctuating wheat economy. See S. M. Lipset, "The Rural Community and Political Leadership in Saskatchewan," Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, August, 1947, pp. 410-428; also S. M. Lipset, "Political Participation and the Organization of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan," Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, May, 1948, pp. 191-208; and the forthcoming book by the author, on The C.C.F. in Saskatchewan.
3
"By the very nature of their role reform leaders tended to be people devoid of 'respectable' attributes. . . . The influences which prompted people to break from established institutions and to take up the cause of reform often increased opposition against them. Desire to escape from the boredom of routine tasks, inability to secure a living or recognition in any other way, love of power which was experienced in swaying large audiences or large reading publics, and personal'grudges' against persons in authority, may have mingled, along with other motives, with the sincere conviction of doing good." S. D. Clark, The Social Development of Canada ( Toronto, 1942), pp. 14-15.

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