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Social Movements and Governing Power

From 2008 to 2019, the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI) published reports under our previous name, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). 

March 2013

By Manuel Pastor, Gihan Perera, and Madeline Wander

While many have commented on the dynamics at play in the 2012 presidential election—from the changing electorate to voter suppression to micro-targeting—one important story has been under-told: how an emerging grassroots organizing strategy called “Integrated Voter Engagement” (IVE) built on the moment of the elections to create momentum for larger and lasting change.

Moments, Movements, and Momentum: Engaging Voters, Scaling Power, Making Change lifts up this story by focusing on how IVE played out in the battleground state of Florida (with a nod towards similar efforts in California, Ohio, and Virginia) through an unprecedented partnership between Florida New Majority (FNM) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It draws on over 40 interviews as well as the on-the-ground knowledge and experience of co-author and FNM co-founder Gihan Perera.

With the elections behind us, why does this story matter? Unlike traditional electoral organizing, IVE does not stop once the votes are counted. This recent iteration of IVE—IVE 2.0—is about building state-level power—a strategic scale that matters for both deepening grassroots engagement and building towards national impact. It requires year-round resources for continued innovation and maturation, and the report makes a series of recommendations for the field and for philanthropy.

One key recommendation: protect the vote itself. That every voice is equal and everyone should stand and be counted has always been a radical idea—and the efforts in Florida, California, Ohio, and elsewhere are an attempt to make real the often-unfulfilled promise that has been at the heart of the American experiment.

Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

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