What Happens When Opponents or Supporters Experience a Failure? Testing the DIME Model of Outcomes of Collective Action in the Context of the Movement for Marriage Equality 

Thomas, E. F. (Flinders University), Louis, W. R. (University of Queensland)McGarty, C. (Western Sydney University) 

Many social changes take years or decades to achieve. The DIME model of outcomes of collective action (Disidentification, Innovation, Moralisation, and Energisation) highlights the impact of success/failure on the tactical choices of people engaged in the longer-term struggle to achieve social change. We tested its key tenets in the context of the 2017 postal survey on legalising same-sex marriage in Australia. Self-identified supporters (N = 420) and opponents (N = 419) of marriage equality were surveyed 4 weeks prior to the release of the result, on the day the result was announced, and 6 weeks later (opponents only). Consistent with the DIME model, latent profile analysis showed that those who had experienced objective political failure (opponents) fell into one of four profiles: a proselyting profile; innovator profile; moderate profile; and disengaged profile. Proselytisers reported a renewed commitment to engage in conventional action; innovators were prepared to engage in radical actions. Conversely, the group of allies (‘supporters’) who had experienced success were homogeneous and, with political change in place, had begun to disidentify with the movement.  Political failure appears to create heterogeneity within a movement, with some people disengaging, but others developing commitment to a new repertoire of actions, including radicalism. 

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Social Change Symposium