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Social Problems


Social movements interact in a wide range of ways, yet we have only a few concepts for thinking about these interactions: coalition, spillover, and opposition. Many social movements interact with each other as neither coalition partners nor opposing movements. In this article, I argue that we need to think more broadly and precisely about the relationships between movements and suggest a framework for conceptualizing noncoalitional interaction between movements. Although social movements scholars have not theorized such interactions, “strange bedfellows” are not uncommon. They differ from coalitions in form, dynamics, relationship to larger movements, and consequences. I first distinguish types of relationships between movements based on extent of interaction and ideological congruence and describe the relationship between collaborating, ideologically opposed movements, which I call “collaborative adversarial relationships.” Second, I differentiate among the dimensions along which social movements may interact and outline the range of forms that collaborative adversarial relationships may take. Third, I theorize factors that influence collaborative adversarial relationships’ development over time, the effects on participants, and consequences for larger movements, in contrast to coalitions. I draw on the case of the relationship between anti-pornography feminists and conservatives during the 1980s, charting the dynamics of their interaction across arenas and over time.


social movements, women’s movement, pornography, coalitions, conservatism





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy


Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.

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Sociology Commons



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