Foul Weather Friends: Enabling Movement Alliance through an Intentionally Limited Coalition

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While social movement organizations often work in alliance with other groups, relatively little has been written about coalitions that are intentionally limited in nature. In this study, I begin to address this gap in the literature through analysis of the successful campaign to defeat Idaho’s Propositions 1, 2, and 3 in 2011–2012. The campaign brought together the Idaho Education Association—the state’s K-12 education workers’ union—and Idaho Parents and Teachers Together, an organization made up of community members who opposed the new education reform laws. The intentionally limited nature of this alliance allowed for strategic separation between organizations, which provided some immunity from opponents’ arguments, lessened the costs of entering into a partnership, and promoted broad-based framing of shared claims and goals. This research challenges previous conceptions of social movement coalitions as long lasting or necessarily built upon preexisting social networks. I call for further research on intentionally limited coalitions, as findings could have applications for both scholars and activists.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalSocial Currents
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • social movements
  • coalitions
  • alliances
  • labor movement
  • unions


  • Sociology

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