Three Layers of History in Recurrent Social Movements: The Case of Food Reform

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Tad Skotnicki, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Using the understudied genre of food reform movements for illustration, we advocate greater attention to recurrent social movements. Analysis of these movements calls for combining three levels of historical analysis. One links the incidence and character of mobilization to long-term, large-scale historical changes; the second shows how periods of activism are also animated and shaped by specific historical contexts; and the third tracks legacies from earlier to later periods, thus both tracing additional causal influences and connecting separate cases into coherent sequences. The social movements literature includes excellent examples of each type of historical account. Combining types is much less common. Doing so, we contend, offers methodological advantages for scholars comparing and sequencing mobilization around similar problems in different historical periods. We develop the argument from three eras of food protest: Grahamites in the 1830s and early 1840s, dietary reformers and food safety campaigners of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and organic advocates who gained popular support beginning in the late 1960s.

Additional Information

Social Movement Studies, Vol. 15, No. 4: 345-360.
Language: English
Date: 2016
Social movements, historical methods, food, consumption, diffusion

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