Abeyance Structures for an Environmental Social Movement: The Case of the US Bases Cleanup Campaign in the Philippines

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Ma. Larissa Lelu GATA , University of the Philippines, Los Baņos, Laguna, Philippines
This paper aims to extend the concept of abeyance structures to the case of the US bases cleanup campaign in the Philippines and US. Abeyance structures refer to various organizational arrangements that absorb the spillover of activists after a social movement declines.  In this paper, I outline four routes by which former partners took after the decline of the said campaign. I use in-depth interviews (n=31), secondary data, and internet archives in drawing themes on the routes taken by core activists of the disbanded campaign. I define  these routes as follows: (a) Route 1 wherein former partners were absorbed by their original affiliations prior to joining the campaign and which they have maintained while taking active part in the campaign; (2) Route 2 wherein former partners sought new affiliations with other nongovernmental organizations and networks of similar or parallel advocacy as the campaign; (3) Route 3 wherein former partners remain in the spirit of the campaign hoping to renew it in the future; and (4) Route 4 wherein a US-based partner-organization structures itself by adopting a transnational environmental justice framework of action, and cultivating an organizational culture to promote its ethnic identity as collective identity. The results offer insights on the internal dynamics of an environmental social movement. The least-resourced partner, which is the community of victims, resorted to being absorbed by other nongovernmental organizations to provide for their daily welfare. Other partners, which include mostly nongovernmental organizations and professionals, have followed different routes in pursuing their goals. The degree of their success is tied to their initial resources in terms of material, cultural and symbolic legitimacy in either the US or the Philippines. This suggests that stronger partners also fare better following the decline, which in turn raises questions on the ability of networking to overcome inequalities among partners.