Dynamics of interorganizational collaboration : social movements during Korea's transition to democracy

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This dissertation investigates the conditions under which alliances form between social movement organizations (SMOs). Although the positive role of cross-movement alliances has been highlighted during democratic transitions around the globe, the factors that increase alliances have not been clarified. I address this issue by examining the changing political and organizational environments in the Korean case. After an introductory chapter, Chapters 2 through 4 compare single, intra-movement, and inter-movement protests, with a particular focus on why collaborative protests (i.e., intra- and inter-movement protests) exhibit different patterns from single protests. My main argument is that both the external political environment represented by reform, repression, and elites' division and the internal organizational environment such as organizational structure and culture affect the likelihood of collaboration between SMOs. In Chapter 2, I show that single protests prevailed in both a relatively free political atmosphere (January - May 1980) and an extremely repressive context (May 1980 - 1983). The political freedom in early 1980 led to a larger protest wave than in the repressive period, but both periods seldom saw collaborative protests. In the former period, a lack of organizational capacity hampered collaborative protests. In the latter period, while underground activism based on an isolated network structure protected movements from repression, it hindered interorganizational collaboration and accelerated the radicalization of movements. Nonetheless, I argue in Chapter 3 that the onset of liberalization within an authoritarian regime revitalized the creation of above-ground SMOs, which increased collaborative protests between multiple SMOs. The reduction of authoritarian rule (1984 - 1987) provided more political opportunities for SMOs to protest. SMOs also sought alliances with opposition elites. These links tended to be temporary, but they increased the movements' public legitimacy and supplied material resources. Based on an increase of coalitions and organizational diversity, SMOs formed centralized networks that coordinated large-scale protests. SMOs enjoyed temporary ideological integration when radicals adopted mass-oriented strategies and agreed to seek a broad consensus around the goal of a direct presidential election. Chapter 4 discusses the complexities of post-transitional changes (1987 - 1991). Institutionalization of movements by elites' increasing cooptation caused conflicts within coalitions, and the state blended reforms with repression as it retained authoritarian legacies. Despite these structural constraints, collaboration continued between SMOs. SMOs became realigned around the goal of reunification, which sustained the level of pre-transition protests but now based their appeal on nationalism. Formal coalitions and high organizational diversity contributed to this trend. However, the weakening of inter-movement coalitions coupled with increasing autonomy of other coalitions decentralized movement leadership. Furthermore, the end of the Cold War precipitated ideological differentiation among Korean activists and spurred the rise of new moderate movements. Chapter 5 deepens my analysis by further investigating the difference between single/intra-movement and inter-movement protests in terms of goal structure, and evaluating the role of organizational environments in protest types. Statistical results show that, reform and repression are more likely to affect inter-movement protests than single or intra-movement protests, while the division of elites fails to have an effect. Coalitions and organizational diversity positively affect all types of protests. The establishment of a strong alliance structure broadly empowers movements by providing a locus of organizational interactions and supports. My findings illustrate the particular sensitivity of inter-movement protests to broad reform-repression dynamics as well as the importance of forging coalitions and diversifying SMOs in the progress of the democracy movement. This dissertation contributes to theorizing the intersection of social movements and democratization by uncovering the time-variant trajectories of alliance formation in pre- and post-democratic transition periods. Adding to the importance of political environment, I stress the role of organizational environment in terms of organizational structure and culture. My focus on interorganizational collaboration in a transitional society improves the understanding of the longitudinal dynamics of protests in periods of contentious politics.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2010
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Lee, Jung-Eun
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Sociology.
Primary advisor McAdam, Doug
Primary advisor Shin, Gi-Wook
Thesis advisor McAdam, Doug
Thesis advisor Shin, Gi-Wook
Thesis advisor Olzak, Susan
Advisor Olzak, Susan


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Jung-Eun Lee.
Note Submitted to the Department of Sociology.
Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2010
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2010 by Jung-eun Lee
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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