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Social Problems

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Pamela Anne QuirozNilda Flores-González

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Identity, Revolution, and Democracy: Lesbian Movements in Central America

Millie Thayer
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3097184 386-407 First published online: 1 August 1997

Abstract

Through case studies of lesbian movements in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, this paper examines the phenomenon of identity-based movements, finding that it embraces significant differences in the content and forms of collective identities. New social movement theory calls attention to the role of identity in contemporary movements, but overlooks variation in the nature of identities. Resource mobilization and political process theories, on the other hand, offer tools for explaining differences, but have not generally been applied to cross-national comparisons of movements around identity. Drawing on interviews with lesbian activists in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, on participant observation, and on archival research, I argue that three factors account for the differences in the way movements in distinctive national contexts construct collective identities: 1) economic structure/model of development; 2) state-civil society relations; and 3) the broader field of social movements.

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