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Coalitions and Political Movements: The Lessons of the Nuclear Freeze

Thomas R. Rochon and David S. Meyer, editors
ISBN: 978-1-55587-744-6
1997/278 pages/LC: 97-10773
Exploring Political Behavior

"A fine collection ... sheds new light on the phenomenon of social movements, stressing the role of coalitions in the rise and decline of the nuclear freeze movement."—John C. Greene


How advanced is our knowledge about the dynamics of political and social activism? What lessons can be learned by studying the rise and fall of particular political and social movements? What insights can be gained by applying the different frameworks and methodologies of political science, sociology, and communications? This original work employs multidisciplinary perspectives to better understand the nuclear freeze, a movement that at one time produced a vast national network of activism and the largest political demonstration in the history of the United States.

Incorporating a new, coalitional theory of political and social movements, the authors explore the successes and failures of the freeze campaign in its attempts to influence legislation, treaties, and public opinion about nuclear weapons. They examine freeze activism in the context of the larger peace movement, its continuing relevance for current and future peace mobilizations, and its implications for the general study of political and social change.


Thomas R. Rochon is professor and director of the Center for Politics and Economics at The Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of Ideas in Movement: Critical Communities, Movements, and Cultural Change. David S. Meyer is associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine. His publications include A Winter of Discontent: The Nuclear Freeze and American Politics.


  • Introduction: The Nuclear Freeze in Theory and Action—T.R. Rochon and D.S. Meyer.
  • Development of the Freeze Coalition. Yodeling in the Echo Chamber: Public Opinion and the Nuclear Freeze—T.R. Rochon and S.P.Wood.
  • Dilemmas of Organization in Peace Campaigns—R. Kleidman and T.R. Rochon.
  • Competition and Cooperation in Movement Coalitions: Lobbying for Peace in the 1980s—W. Hathaway and D.S. Meyer.
  • Transnational Activism in the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign—D. Cortright and R. Pagnucco.
  • Social and Political Impact of the Freeze.
  • Freeze Frame: News Coverage of the Freeze Movement—A. Rojecki.
  • The Nuclear Freeze Movement’s Effect on Policy—J.W. Knopf.
  • Three Faces of the Freeze: Arenas of Success and Failure—T.R. Rochon.
  • Demobilization and Movement Transition. Persevering for Peace: Organizational Survival and Transformation of the U.S. Peace Movement, 1988–1992—S. Marullo and B. Edwards.
  • Peace Movement Adaptation at the State Level: The Case of Maine—J. MacDougall.
  • The Development and Maintenance of Activism in Anti–Nuclear Weapons Movements—T.C. Edwards.
  • Conclusion: Toward a Coalitional Theory of Social and Political Movements—D.S. Meyer and T.R. Rochon.