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Elite-Led Mobilization and Gay Rights: Dispelling the Myth of Mass Opinion Backlash, Charles Anthony Smith, Benjamin George Bishin, Thomas J. Hayes and Matthew B. Incantalupo

Reviewed by Shawn Ratcliff

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Elite-Led Mobilization and Gay Rights examines the conditions under which social movement victories impact movement-congruent attitudes. Specifically, Benjamin George Bishin, Thomas J. Hayes, Matthew B. Incantalupo, and Charles Anthony Smith focus their attention on the tantamount victories of the LGBTQ + movement and examine whether (perceived) backlash is driven by the general population or, rather, by political elites. Composing and testing their theory of “elite-led mobilization,” this work demonstrates the effective and nuanced ways that movements and institutional politics intersect, particularly with respect to countermobilization efforts.

Chapters 1 and 2 lay the groundwork for the rest of the book by providing an overview of extant research within political science on public opinion development and by discussing the questions raised “about not only the extent to which backlash occurs but also whether some other theory might better explain opposition to gay rights” (p. 37). Challenging inconsistent results from mass opinion backlash research, the authors propose that backlash “might actually be driven by… elite action,” or elite-led mobilization (p. 37). As it relates to the LGBTQ + movement, the authors conceptualize how the Religious Right has melded with the Republican Pa

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