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Latin American Studies Association

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Latin American Research Review

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This article examines how the organizational structure of a social movement affects the tactics it is likely to adopt. Hybrid movements gained prominence at the start of the twenty-first century. Like movements of the past, they protested on the streets; but unlike the movements of the past, they also acted like interest groups by lobbying government over policy. Considered through the lens of traditional scholarship, this phenomenon presents a puzzle. Loose networks of activists are thought to be good at contentious politics but incapable of negotiating with government. By contrast, federations of interest groups are seen to be good at insider lobbying but subject to co-optation. This article theorizes the middle ground between social movements and interest groups by proposing a third structure for social movement organizing, the federative coalition, which incorporates some of the advantages of hierarchy while avoiding some of its pitfalls. The article illustrates this argument through a case study of Brazil’s AIDS movement.


Published version. Latin American Research Review, Vol. 55, No. 3 (September 2020): 430-444. DOI. © 2020 Latin American Studies Association. Used with permission.

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