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Causal Theory and Causal Modeling

Replication is one of the main features of science, and therefore also of social science. Replicating findings based on the same data, but using different methods (that is, triangulation) is one of the principal ways to accumulate and advance knowledge in a given field. Here we would like to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of social movements by replicating an existing comparative study of the policy impact of movements. Others before us have made use of replication to study the effects of social movements. The most well-known examples are the reanalyses of the findings of Gamson’s (1990[1975]) seminal work on the determinations success among a sample of American protest groups active between 1800 and 1945 (Frey, Dietz, and Kalof 1992; Goldstone 1980; Mirowsky and Ross 1981; Steedly and Foley 1979). Gamson facilitated this reanalysis by including the raw variables of his study in the appendix of his book.1 However, while the main objective of Gamson’s (1990) study and of most reanalyses of his data was to determine the role of the groups’ internal characteristics (type of goals, strategies of action, degree of organization, etc.), here we follow scholars who have shown how the policy impact of social movements depends on external conditions (Barkan 1984; Goldstone 1980; Kitschelt 1986; Jenkins and Perrow 1977; Lipsky 1968; McAdam 1999; Schumaker 1975, 1978). More specifically, we focus on the role of political opportunity structures and public opinion as facilitating or preventing the policy impact of social movements.