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The Political Power of Protest: Minority Activism and Shifts in Public Policy (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics) Paperback – May 24, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


"Dan Gillion's new book makes an important contribution to several fields, including race and ethnic studies, social movements, agenda-setting, and representation. The analysis is novel in many ways, including its systematic treatment of the effect of protest on all three branches of government, its analyses of the particular targets of protest activities within Congress and the Supreme Court, its long time coverage, its coverage of several minority protest movements, and its attention to the public opinion context within which protests occur. These distinctive features ensure a wide audience and a lasting impact. It is a major contribution to several fields."
Frank R. Baumgartner, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"The Political Power of Protest offers a compelling new theoretical and empirical account of minority agenda setting in the post-civil rights era. For years, scholars and practitioners alike have looked to descriptive representation and conventional electoral politics as the primary vehicles for advancing minority political interests. What Gillion reveals is that protest remains a powerful tool. With direct political action, minority Americans can motivate greater policy responsiveness from all branches of government. Gillion's research is a welcome arrival to the literature on democratic accountability, and it demands to be read."
Claudine Gay, Harvard University

"While a generation of scholarship in minority politics has documented that 'protest is not enough' for minorities to have a voice in the political system, this insightful books provides a long overdue correction to that adage. As this book illuminates, protest is key to agenda setting in national political institutions. With empirically rich details and theoretical sophistication, The Political Power of Protest will reenergize the debate about whether political incorporation in the electoral-representative system is sufficient enough for minorities to have their policy preferences acted on. In an age where the incorporation of minorities in the political system is triumphantly celebrated, this book is a reminder that continuous agitation outside of electoral politics is a crucial mechanism for pushing the policy agenda of minority groups."
Fredrick Harris, Columbia University

"The Political Power of Protest is a welcome addition to scholarship on the question of how social protest impacts the state. Rather than focusing narrowly on the effect of protest on policy, this ambitious book expands our scholarly horizons by also focusing on its effect on judicial and presidential outcomes. Gillion's novel and masterful analysis of data on protest and these various outcomes pushes this literature in new and exciting directions. This is a 'must-read' book for scholars interested in the effects of social movements on the policy process and other state outcomes. But it will also be of interest to sociologists and political scientists interested in how lawmakers interpret signals about their constituents' wishes. Finally, it should also be of interest to scholars of minority politics who are interested in the mechanisms by which minority rights legislation is passed."
Sarah A. Soule, Stanford University

"Gillion tackles a large question in a slim volume: "Do protest actions truly influence the behavior of public official?" The research presented in this book shows that government action at the national level can be influenced by minority group protests ... Summing up: recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research and professional collections."
J. D. Rausch, Choice

Book Description

This book is the first to provide quantifiable evidence that protest shifts the policy positions of national political leaders for each branch of government. Drawing on daily presidential rhetoric, roll call votes of congressional leaders, and Supreme Court decisions, the book demonstrates that national politicians take cues from minority protest activity that later lead to major shifts in public policy, rivaling the influence that minorities have through elections and public opinion.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics
  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107657415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107657410
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,072,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Gillion is the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar and a Ford Foundation Fellow at Harvard University for 2012-2014.

Daniel Q. Gillion is also a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interest focuses on racial and ethnic politics, political behavior, public opinion, and the American presidency. Professor Gillion's recently completed book, "The Power of Political Protest: Minority Activism and Shifts in Public Policy" (Cambridge University Press), demonstrates the influential role of protest to garner a response from each branch of the federal government, highlighting protest actions as another form of constituent sentiment that should be considered alongside public opinion and voting behavior. Professor Gillion's research has also been published in the academic journals Electoral Studies and Journal of Politics as well as in the edited volumes of Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. In addition to being a faculty member in the political science department at Penn, Professor Gillion is an affiliate faculty member with the Center for Africana Studies and the Asian American Studies Program.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book on a very important topic, and it brings a lot of data to bear on that topic. However, the math really doesn't seem to add up in places. It's an academic book from a very well-regarded press; I'm surprised that at least one of the people who reviewed it didn't notice some of the problems with the statistical analysis. In any case, it still makes some nice contributions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By primesuspect on October 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The topic of the book is excellent and as Gullion states, there isn't a lot of research on how political protest influence politics. Guillion isn't afraid of citing other work done in understanding political movements written by sociologist and political scientists. He backs relies very heavily on other studies down to make a more constructive argument.

However, the books lacks examples. Since this is a topic on American political protest shaping the federal government, it is impossible to write a book and not go into an in-depth analysis of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. Guillion just barely touches the surface on the effects the movement had on the three branches of government and how that can be uses as a major tool and reference point for future political protest. As a reader, I was left wondering why he didn't touch the topic What was so unique about the Civil Rights movement? Or he could have gone in another direction and looked at the LGTB political protest in California against Prop 8 in 2008. Why didn't that protest move Congress to take on a more comprehensive marriage bill? Why did the people of California vote they way they did in the referendum? Again, two great examples he could have used in his book to create a dialogue and give recent examples to his reader.

Overall, it was not a bad book at all. Easy read filled with sources for readers to do more research on their own if the urge drives them. You could definitely use the book as a starting point to understanding political protest but if you want more substance, you would have to look elsewhere.
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