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The Organization of Gay Rights Activism After Communism: Poland and the Czech Republic

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

12:00 PM-2:00 PM

Conor O'Dwyer, PhD (University of Florida) shares his research on social movement organization in Poland and the Czech Republic after the Cold War.


How can we explain differences in the organization of activism in post-communist Europe?  The dominant narratives of the region's political development – the communist legacy, on the one hand, and Europeanizing norm diffusion on the other – identify a number of critical causal determinants.  The legacy thesis highlights the scarcity of resources for mobilization, predicting uniformly low levels of activism.  The Europeanization thesis suggests that external incentives and social learning processes shape the timing and robustness of social movement development.  When held up against the divergent trajectories of gay-rights activism from 1989 through 2011, however, each narrative raises as many questions as it answers. Therefore, this talk presents a social movement model that specifies conditions under which communist legacy and transnational pressure may interact to produce organized and politically oriented activism in some cases but not others.  The research focuses on a close comparison of Poland and the Czech Republic and draws on field interviews and original sources to process-trace how homosexuality is framed and how activism is organized.  This framework offers broader lessons about the possibilities for transnational activism in seemingly unlikely contexts, showing how, even when resources are minimal, backlash can enable movements to find resonant frames, build internal solidarity, and win allies.

Join us as part of the Department of Politics LGBTQ Speaker Series.

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Contact Information

Lauren Farmer

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Disque Hall, Room 109, 32 South 32nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (Location may change)


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  • Free Food