Organizing for the Equal Rights Amendment the first time round, in 1972-82, tapped the strengths and experienced the weaknesses of social movements in general. The strengths of social movements derive from their “hydra-headed” qualities: the activists bubble up from many different arenas, giving the movement great flexibility, adaptability, diversity, and intelligence. The weaknesses derive from their relative absence of selective incentives, so that the motivation for activism is primarily ideological commitment. That commitment in turn, creates a “dynamic of deafness,” in which activists are unlikely to listen and learn from their opposition. In this seminar, Jane Mansbridge discusses how the current organizing effort has learned in different ways from the past.
Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, Harvard Kennedy School