Erin Mayo-Adam, "Queer Alliances: How Power Shapes Political Movement Formation" (Stanford UP, 2020)


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Queer Alliances: How Power Shapes Political Movement Formation (Stanford UP, 2020) examines not only the policies that political movements advocate for, and those that are achieved, but the research pays particular attention to the dynamics that contribute to the movement formation itself and how this part of the story is often overlooked or obscured. Erin Mayo-Adam’s new book aims, in her research, to explore political movements in the United States, while also making a great effort to center the activists themselves, spotlighting their voices and experiences, and their perspective on how these movements come together, and also fragment over time. Mayo-Adam’s research focuses on three movements, the labor movement, the immigrant movement, and the LGBTQ+ movement, and how these distinct social/political movements took up policy advocacy together in Arizona and in Washington State in response to the passage of restrictive policy. Queer Alliances specifically focuses on the formation of these coalitions, rather than focusing on their successes or outcomes—though those are also noted and discussed within the text—distinguishing the research and the approach from much of the work that is generally done in political science around political coalitions. This is part of Mayo-Adam’s project, to shift our thinking around understanding political movements and how we should assess them and the capacity they bring to political engagement.

Queer Alliances examines the inter- and intra-movement dynamics, highlighting the way these different political advocates come together in unified coalitions, at least for a time, and then also assessing what happens when policy changes are achieved or when they fail. Part of the story that Mayo-Adam is telling is also about the various approaches that these coalitions take in order to get to a policy win, and how some of these approaches may have longer legs, having impacts beyond the immediate policy pursuit of the particular coalition. This is a fascinating analysis, honoring the activists and advocates who came together to form political coalitions by enunciating their voices and their approach to political engagement, and how and why they are able to build coalitions, in these cases, that integrate immigration advocates, labor advocates, and advocates for a broad array of LGBTQ+ rights.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her at or tweet at her @gorenlj.

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