Everybody in and nobody out: opportunities, narrative, and the radical flank in the movement for single-payer health care reform
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In this dissertation, I analyze over twenty years of the United States Single Payer Movement. I began this analysis with the following questions in mind -- What is the Relationship between opportunity and grassroots mobilization? How do activists understand opportunity? What is the role of narrative in this process? I grounded my analysis in a feminist epistemological and methodological stance, which is rooted in the understanding that all knowledge is located and that we can learn much by privileging the voices from marginalized positions. This research involved participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and content analysis. This research has resulted in a significant contribution to social movement theory by further explicating the relationship between opportunity and grassroots opportunity. I argue that social movement actors develop understandings about the opportunities that they face through the practice of narrative. This narrative practice is an integral aspect in the process of pragmatic liberation, or the practice of liberation, through which social movement actors seek to empower themselves and a wider audience of constituents. Even during time periods in which there is less political likelihood that the movement will achieve its goals, movement activists are able to mobilize constituencies by constructing narratives of opportunity outside of the material realm. A more diverse system of narrative practice that is rooted in multiple types of opportunity facilitates greater diversity in movement mobilization.