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Edwin Amenta

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Name  Edwin Amenta

Role  Sociologist
Edwin Amenta wwwfacultyucieduimgfaculty5285jpg

Fields  Social policySocial movementsPolitical sociologyHistorical sociologyComparative sociologySports sociology
Institutions  University of California, Irvine
Alma mater  Indiana University (AB)Indiana University (MA)University of Chicago (PhD)
Institution  University of California, Irvine
Books  Bold Relief, When Movements Matter, Professor Baseball: Searchin

Edwin amenta us old age policy in its formative years

Edwin Amenta is an American sociologist best known for his study of social policy, social movements, and the New Deal.



Through his Political Mediation Theory, developed as a consequence of studying the Townsend movement for old-age pensions and other New Deal movements, Amenta has influenced how scholars conceptualize, study, and explain social movement impacts. He is also known for theorizing the role of political institutions in policy-making. Amenta's recent work includes the development of a newspaper coverage database that allows scholars to test theories of social movement impacts across 34 major social movement organizations.

Amenta has written three books and more than 50 articles and book chapters. Bold Relief: Institutional Politics and the Origins of Modern American Social Policy (Princeton University Press, 1998) won the 1999 Distinguished Book award from the American Sociological Association section on Political Sociology. His article “Age for Leisure? Political Mediation and the Impact of the Pension Movement on U.S. Old-Age Policy" (with Neal Caren and Sheera Joy Olasky) won the 2006 Best Published Article Award from the American Sociological Association section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements.

Amenta's other books include When Movements Matter: The Townsend Plan and the Rise of Social Security (Princeton University Press, 2006) and The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

Amenta is serving as the 2013-2014 chair of the American Sociological Association Collective Behavior and Social Movements section, and he has received funding from the Russell Sage Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Political Mediation Theory

Before Amenta, most work on movement impacts focused either on the internal characteristics of movements (membership, resources, organization, tactics) or their external environments (openness of the political system, elite alignments and alliances, and state repressive capacities). In his books Bold Relief and When Movements Matter and in a string of articles, Amenta’s political mediation model proffers theory regarding interactions between the internal characteristics of movements and their external environments. Amenta argues that particular movement tactics work better in some contexts than in others, and his empirical work shows interactions between the assertiveness of movement tactics and short-term political contexts. Specifically, when elected officials and state bureaucrats are favorably disposed towards a movement, minimally-assertive tactics will suffice; but when elected officials and state bureaucrats are hostile towards a movement, assertive tactics are necessary. In addition, if elected officials are favorable but state bureaucrats are hostile, or vice versa, movement organizations must target the hostile parties rather than the favorable ones.


Edwin Amenta Wikipedia