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Edwin Amenta and Francesca Polletta. The Cultural Impacts of Social Movements. Annual Review of Sociology 2019 45:1, 279-299.

The most important impacts of social movements are often cultural, but the sheer variety of potential cultural impacts—from shifts in public opinion to new portrayals of a group on television to the metrics guiding funding in a federal agency—presents unique challenges to scholars. Rather than treating culture as a social sphere separate from politics and the economy, we conceptualize it as the ideas, values, and assumptions underpinning policies and practices in all spheres. We review recent research on movements’ impacts on public opinion and everyday behavior; the media and popular culture; nonpolitical institutions such as science, medicine, and education; and politics. We focus on cultural impacts that have mattered for movements’ constituencies and address why movements have had those impacts. We conclude with an agenda for future research, seeking greater connection between the literatures on movements and the literatures on the institutions that matter to movements.

Edwin Amenta and Francesca Polletta – The Cultural Impacts of Social Movements