“But it comes with a price”: employment in social movement organizations
Kandlik Eltanani, Mor
In recent decades, social movements in general and Social Movement Organisations (SMOs) in particular have been going through processes of professionalisation, adopting market goals and methods, and employing on a large scale. Whilst most literature focuses on the impact of such processes for SMO activism, this research focuses on the impact of such moves for SMO staff. This thesis looks at employment and professionalisation in Israeli peace and anti-occupation SMOs, using Social Movement Theory, labour market literature, and a Weberian approach to conceptualise professionalisation, working conditions, and careers in SMOs. The mixed-methods data collection process included a phone survey of 200 workers in 32 SMOs, administrative data collected from the Israeli Bureau of Associations, 5 in-depth interviews and 2 workshops. The quantitative analysis mainly includes a comparison of SMO workers and representative data on the Israeli population and labour market (using the surveys ISSP 2005, ESS 2010, and the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics’ Social Survey 2011), and multilevel analysis using variables at both the organisational and the individual levels. The interviews and workshops used participants as partners, ensuring that the analysis is valid, meaningful, and relevant. Findings reveal that the researched SMO workers are highly educated, with an overrepresentation of women and Palestinians. They have a higher proportion of part-time positions, shorter tenure, and lower pay considering their educational levels, compared to the general Israeli labour market. While inequalities between Jews and Palestinians are not maintained in SMOs, inequalities between men and women are. Whilst working conditions are not ideal, SMO workers are motivated more by helping others and by professional interest, and less by practical considerations – although these do have a place in their decisions. They tend to stay within the Social Movement Sector, and develop an activism career – in which the organisational style and goals of SMOs compared to those of other sectors make it hard for them to leave the Social Movement Sector. The conceptualisation of professionalisation as bureaucratisation presented in Social Movement Theory matches actual data, and a professionalisation scale was created. Professionalisation may have negative effects on salary and tenure, and no positive effects were seen. These findings are true for SMOs that already employ workers, and they are interesting given that one consequence of professionalisation is creating more SMO employment. Different activity areas seem to offer different working conditions. This dissertation offers a contribution to SMOs and their workers, by highlighting inequalities and problematic issues regarding working conditions. It also enhances our theoretical understanding of SMO workers’ careers and careers in general, as well as of the possible consequences of professionalisation processes.
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