SOCIAL MOVEMENT ABEYANCE AND IDENTITY WORK IN THE WELFARE RIGHTS MOVEMENT
Degree awarded: M.A. Sociology. American University
Movement fragmentation in a movement under abeyance makes the recruitment of committed supporters all the more important if the movement is to survive from one mobilization cycle to another. Activists' identity construction can be complicated by movement fragmentation in periods of abeyance but a sense of hopeful activism keeps participants attached to such movements in spite of movement abeyance. I conducted twenty-five semi-structured interviews with welfare rights activists in a mid-western city and analyzed their identity construction processes. An analysis of the interview transcripts revealed that the idea of the right to welfare remains firm for all activists. However, the stigma attached to the label "welfare" has divided activists on whether to retain or abandon the label as a descriptor of the collective identity of the movement.