Edwin Amenta, sociology professor, has received a $143,494 grant from the National Science Foundation to create a comprehensive database on the collective actions, media coverage and characteristics of social movement organizations from 1960-95. The project, Amenta says, represents one of the largest such efforts to track multi-organizational social movement activity.

“Movements are typically studied either through their organizations or through their collective action, but no one has ever determined how complete these portraits are,” Amenta says. “This research will settle that question.”

The project builds on NSF-funded research Amenta previously collected on twentieth century media coverage of more than 1,400 social movement organizations. The project spanned coverage in four national newspapers and included a review of approximately one million articles. He will combine this data with the Dynamics of Collective Action study, also funded by NSF, which tracked media coverage of all collective action events reported in the New York Times from 1960-95.

Merging the two datasets, says Amenta, along with additional research on characteristics of social movement organizations and public opinion, will allow researchers to determine how stories about social movements emerge, how characteristics such as protests impact media coverage, and how social movements and their coverage in media shape public opinion.

When completed, the information will be made web accessible to the public.

This study began in June and will run through May 2014.

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