Organizing Social Movements – the Cases of Women’s Umbrellas in Poland and Sweden

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Eva KARLBERG, Södertörn University, Sweden
In relation to EU accession, both the Swedish and Polish women’s movements saw the emergence of a new type of organization in the field: the Swedish Women’s Lobby (SWL) and the Polish Women’s Lobby (PWL). These two meta-organizations were set up in order for the movement to have a voice and membership in the Brussels-based, professional NGO the European Women’s Lobby. However, even though SWL and PWL are supposed to be each other’s equivalents, in the sense of being national umbrellas for women’s organizations and a link to the European level, their stories of emergence and subsequent development differ considerably. Whereas one has established itself as an influential formal organization, the other is at the very moment going through its third attempt at formation. Both cases show important similarities in struggles characteristic of meta-organizations, as the issues of power, identity, and autonomy are prevalent. Embedded in different national opportunity structures, however, the SWL and PWL show how the meta-organizational form is more suitable in some contexts than in others. The aim of this paper is thus to explore the development and impact of meta-organizing in a social movement field through a comparison of two similar attempts at organization in two very different and specific movement contexts. Other interesting aspects such as the role of external actors (the state, international donors) will be considered. There is also an ambition to contribute to the integration of organization theory and social movement research.