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  Volume 36   October 2009 


Acting Under the Influence:

The Effects of Elite Political Support on Anti-nuclear Social Movement Organizations

by Mary Cox



The anti-nuclear weapons movement calls for total abolition of nuclear weapons everywhere in the world.1   This transnational social movement rose out of the “ashes of death”2 left from the nuclear attack by the United States on Japan and the ensuing Cold War, characterized by an arms race between Russia and the United States.  The first, and so far only time, atomic bombs were used in warfare was in August of 1945 when the United States attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, completely demolishing the cities and their people, signaling an end to World War II.  Since then, scientists have developed more advanced technology to create vastly more powerful bombs that are 70 times the explosive power used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.3

In 1970, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was created in order to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons, to negotiate nuclear disarmament and to make the peaceful use of nuclear energy universally available.4   According to Steve Leeper, chair of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation in Hiroshima, Japan, the NPT is the core of the global, elite anti-nuclear weapons movement, though it is not being followed according to the writers’ original intent.  Efforts at the elite level are those made by political officials and government systems.  Grassroots efforts, on the other hand, are executed by ordinary citizens, though they may try to influence the work of the elites.  The grassroots effort is less visible, though it is still a contributing part of the movement.  The anti-nuclear movement has been operating on an international level as well as a grassroots level for several years.5


Currently, five “nuclear-weapon free zone” treaties exist: the Antarctic Treaty, the Latin America and the Caribbean Treaty, the South Pacific Treaty, the Southeast Asia Treaty, and the African Treaty.6 In these treaties, the participating countries promise not to bring nuclear weapons into their region and not to transfer such weapons to other countries, as well as requesting not to be attacked or threatened by nuclear weapons.  The number of countries involved totals 113 countries out of 191 in the world.7 Although America and Russia are not in a nuclear-weapon free zone, a recent poll performed by an organization called World Public Opinion revealed that perhaps America and Russia ought to be free of nuclear weapons if they want to follow the will of the people.8 Seventy-three percent of Americans and sixty-three percent of Russians endorse the goal of the NPT to eliminate all nuclear weapons.9 This is the state of the anti-nuclear weapons movement today.


Discourse on this topic is no longer as important to the public as in the past.10 Now that the Cold War is two decades past, the subject of nuclear weapons no longer bothers people on a daily basis.  However, current events speak loudly of continued nuclear threat and prove that the world needs to continue to investigate the issues surrounding nuclear weapons.  For example, North Korea announced to the world on October 9, 2006 that it had conducted a nuclear test, a failure of nonproliferation values and goals.11 Also, according to Steve Leeper, the chair of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, the United States is considering using small nuclear bunker busters in Iran to hit targets that would be undefeatable with conventional, non-nuclear weapons.12


Not only do current events speak for themselves on the nuclear issue, but history teaches us something as well.  Though it may seem outdated and directly from the Cold War Era, mutual assured destruction (MAD), a military strategy based on the doctrine of nuclear deterrence in which full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two enemies would effectively destroy both sides, is still a threat.13   We now know of at least sixteen nuclear crises during the Cold War, many of which can be attributed to simple accidents, the most well-known being the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  Even in 1995, a few years after the Cold War ended, a miscommunication occurred between Norway and Russia that swung Russia into combat mode on a five-minute warning.14   Accidents such as these are still quite possible today. 

Therefore, the global public needs to gain a greater understanding of nuclear power, the way it affects our world, and the current global movement against nuclear weapons in order to prevent nuclear activity.  We need to reopen a global discussion of nuclear power.  My research attempts to answer the following question: how does elite political support affect the way two anti-nuclear weapons movement organizations, the World Friendship Center and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, operate in terms of goals, strategies, tactics, and outcomes?  If we begin to understand how political elites affect these two organizations, then we can build on that understanding to help guide our strategies for working towards the abolishment of nuclear weapons.  Answering this research question will provide a basis for social movement actors to make decisions regarding their interaction with elites.  More informed interactions will lead to the much-needed global attention on controversial nuclear issues.  The remainder of this paper will review previous research, relate it to the political opportunity theory, describe and analyze gathered data, report findings and discuss the implications of the results.


Literature Review


According to Goodwin and Jasper, political opportunity theory is a sociological approach to movement dynamics that focuses on social movements’ interactions with the state.  It views social movements as a rational means by which to achieve goals through political influence and attributes the advancement of movement goals to the state’s actions that create an environment of opportunity for the movement.15 According to Caniglia, the concept of political opportunity can be characterized by four dimensions:  1) the degree to which a political system is open or closed to dissent; 2) the measure of stability or instability of the relationships and structural ties between elites within the state; 3) the presence or absence of elite connections to a social movement; and 4) the state’s capability and inclination toward oppression.16


By Caniglia’s assessment, researchers have done little to address these individual dimensions of political opportunity theory.  More specifically, “very little research focuses on how elite allies affect movement outcomes.”17   Caniglia claims that this may be a result of two common misconceptions by social movement scholars.  First, despite the fact that political opportunity theory rests in part on the degree of openness by the political structure, many studies of the relationship between elites and movements are limited by the incorrect assumption that movements are solely comprised of non-elites, and therefore, the political stage is closed to the direct participation of social movement actors.  The second common misconception is that political elites do not personally relate to the grievances that social movements seek to address, an assumption that implies that the only way to reach a political elite is to threaten his or her chances for re-election.18   For example, Doyle expresses the concern that the bureaucrats of the environmental movement have gotten caught up in elite-level organizational concerns and have forgotten the origins of the movement.19   This view of a personally distanced web of elites is outdated and based on older movements that sought to gain wider participation and goods in society.20   Now, however, an increasing number of movements, such as the environmental movement, the queer movement, and the anti-nuclear weapons movement are emerging based on identity and “quality-of-life issues.”21   These kind of social movements make appeals to all sectors of society by claiming that all people benefit directly from the goals of the movement.  The nature of these newer movements means that political elites can, in fact, become personally invested in the movement’s goals and outcomes.22

The personal involvement of elites in social movements leads Caniglia to determine that the boundaries between movements and institutional politics have become blurred in recent years.23   In fact, she challenges the traditional approach by political theorists as put forth by Goodwin and Jasper, who call social movements, as viewed through the political opportunity theory, “little more than normal politics that used extra-institutional means.”24   Caniglia, however, cites Zald for arguing that the reverse is true: politics are simply another means to express social movement ideologies.  This approach is more inclusive of the “messy reality where movement activists and political elites frequently share similar beliefs and interests.”25   Indeed, social movement organizations have the opportunity to create and build upon relationships with political elites; the two groups interact more directly today than they did in the past.26

Caniglia’s research also addresses informal connections versus formal alliances between elites and movements.  To qualify as having a formal alliance, a transnational social movement organization must hold “consultative status” with a United Nations’ agency or International Governmental Organization, which is obtained by meeting certain criteria set forth by the United Nations’ General Assembly and completing the official application process.27   If an organization holds consultative status, it enjoys a number of privileges including access to United Nations’ meetings and receiving United Nations’ documents.  On the other hand, an organization that experiences only informal ties to United Nations’ agencies creates relationships based on reputation, trust and reciprocity.  In this kind of a relationship, some SMOs are able to acquire privileged information that is critical in helping them determine a course of action.  Caniglia’s research did not reveal significant findings about the effects of formal alliances, but it did find that organizations in the environmental movement played the most central role when they had created informal ties with International Governmental Organizations and United Nations’ agencies.28


The focus of my research will address the third dimension of political opportunity theory as previously outlined by Caniglia: the presence or absence of political elites.29   According to Caniglia, political opportunity analysts have already shown that ties and support to elite sectors of society have important consequences for movement results.30   My research will further explore this issue within the context of the anti-nuclear weapons movement using two specific Social Movement Organizations, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and the World Friendship Center.

Data and Methods


To investigate the effects of elite support and Social Movement Organization leadership in the anti-nuclear weapons movement, I used an interpretive, qualitative method of analysis to examine the collected data, as explained by Lewins, Taylor and Gibbs.  Qualitative Data Analysis involves the identification of themes and writing analytically about the data.31   It seeks an explanation, interpretation or understanding of the people, situations and contexts studied.  The type of data that this approach uses include interviews, field notes, videos, audio recordings, images and documents.32


I drew my data from a variety of sources to learn about the movement at both the elite level and the grassroots level.  I interviewed Steve Leeper, chair of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, an arm of the Hiroshima city government.  I conducted the interview on the evening of November 14, 2007 via the Internet voice communication software Skype, for 70 minutes.  To obtain information about Mayors for Peace, an non-governmental organization that lies within the International Peace Promotion Division of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, I visited its official website and read several articles.  Together, these sources lent me insight into the elite portion of the movement. 


To investigate a grassroots organization, I focused on the World Friendship Center because it was started from the bottom up by an individual.  I downloaded documents from the World Friendship Center’s official website, as well as sources from other current activists in Japan.  In addition, I drew from my personal 2-week long experience in Japan as a guest of the Center.  The purpose of my stay in Japan was to learn about peace from a Japanese perspective and to hear first-hand how the atom bomb affects their country and people.  I was in Japan from August 1, 2007 through August 14, 2007.  To supplement my understanding of the organization, I also interviewed Kent and Sarah Sweitzer, the co-directors of the World Friendship Center.  I conducted this interview over Skype in the evening of November 23, 2007, and it lasted 70 minutes.



I learned from my data analysis that the two subjects investigated, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (an elite organization) and the World Friendship Center (a grassroots organization), share some of the same goals, but they employ different strategies and tactics and different outcomes result.33   The common goal between the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and the World Friendship Center is to spread the non-nuclear message.  Steve Leeper, the chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, identified the three main goals of his34 organization, each one having a different timetable: 

"We have three sets of goals I’d say.  One, the longest term set of goals is to actually help the world, help the human family, graduate from the war culture, the culture of violence that we live in now, to a peace culture…Another project, which is much shorter-term and clearer, is we are, in fact, trying to get rid of nuclear weapons by 2020…But, our shortest term goal and my own personal number one top priority, is to keep anybody from using nuclear weapons in the next two or three years."35

A war culture is one that loves competition and prefers to fight in an event of conflict.  A peace culture, on the other hand, is characterized by cooperation and love.  According to Steve Leeper, “peace is a social health, and any effort to move a group or a society or the world in that direction is a manifestation of peace culture.”36   All of the work done by the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is toward this end.


The goals of the World Friendship Center are also concerned with sending an anti-nuclear message to the world.37   The center was created in 1965 by Barbara Reynolds, an American Quaker peace activist, who moved to Hiroshima in 1951 and whose experiences with hibakusha, survivors of the atom bomb, led her to actively work against nuclear weapons in a number of capacities.  Her founding vision for the organization was "to foster peace, one friend at a time.”38  


The recurring theme within all sources is a call to prevent another Hiroshima from ever happening again.  I heard this powerful message in several ways while I was visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I met several hibakusha and attended many ceremonies.  On August 4th, 2007, I attended the Ceremony for A-bombed Teachers and Students held in Hiroshima’s Peace Park.  At one point during the ceremony, the translator traveling with my group turned to me and said, “The strongest and most important message is: do not repeat Hiroshima.”39   The way this message takes shape in the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and the World Friendship Center is affected by the nature of the organization, part of that necessarily being its connection or disconnection to the political elite community. For example, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation works on an elite scale to inform the mass public and to influence politics in a way that will prevent another nuclear attack.  The World Friendship Center, however, works on a grassroots scale to connect people to hibakusha so that the message can be heard from someone who experienced the effects of the bomb. 


The strategies and tactics for achieving their respective goals were varied and unique to both organizations studied.  Steve Leeper identified four major strategies that the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation will use to work toward its goals: 1) make a true global campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons; 2) send a clear message to politicians that it would be political suicide for them to ever use nuclear weapons; 3) bring the 2010 review conference of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty into public attention; and 4) arouse grassroots interest.40   The tactics the foundation will employ in order to implement these strategies will be to receive donations from member cities of Mayors for Peace, use that money to hire regional coordinators to work in various parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, and hire a professional public relations firm:

"We have to find someone who will take the money we can give them and do a reasonably good job of getting us into various media so we can inject this issue into the mind of the public.  And I think that’s all it takes. Because the public is, if you ask them…already against nuclear weapons – they don’t want to die like that."41  

It is apparent that all of these tactics revolve around the issue of advancing their cause by reaching the public.


The World Friendship Center’s strategies and tactics are manifested in their unique program that offers a variety of services to the public.42   The World Friendship Center operates as a small bed and breakfast near the center of Hiroshima.  There are four dimensions to its organizational structure.  First, there is a Japanese board of directors called the Riji, who oversee much of the financial and decision-making processes.  Second, two volunteers are on site who serve a two-year term as co-directors and hosts of the Center.  Third, an American Committee plays a role in some decisions, though a more distanced one, and it is mainly comprised of previous volunteer hosts.  Finally, there is a bilingual staff position on site that helps to hold everything together.  It is from within this structure that the World Friendship Center plays its part in the anti-nuclear movement.  For example, in addition to hosting guests from around the world, the WFC also offers English conversation classes, guided tours of Hiroshima’s Peace Park in Japanese and English, personal introductions and discussions with hibakusha, a Peace Ambassador Exchange Program, participation in a local Peace Choir, and involvement with a nursing home for hibakusha.  The Center implements a strategy of personal interaction in order to achieve its goals of creating cross-cultural friendships and spreading the nuclear disarmament message.  The types of activities in which the Center engages are not those of an activist organization.  They do not organize protests, nor do they petition government officials for change.43   I can attest from my own time spent as a guest of the World Friendship Center that they do, however, encourage a powerful, cross-cultural, and interpersonal type of learning experience for visitors.


Both the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and the World Friendship Center are aiming to reach a global public.  The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is using political means by trying to influence voters and the political climate in the United States:

"The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation itself is doing 101 A-bomb exhibitions in the United States between now and the end of 2008…and we say the end of 2008 because we don’t want to make it real obvious that we are aiming at the elections.  It’s kind of taboo for one country to try and affect the elections of another country, not that it doesn’t happen…We are not saying overtly that we are trying to do that, but I certainly am.  I’m trying to raise the consciousness of people about that."44

Influencing elections is one way the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation uses its elite influence, which illustrates the tenets of political opportunity theory.  Another tactic used is appealing to the United Nations.  For example, Mayors for Peace, a division within the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, operates with a Non-Governmental Organization status.45   Steve Leeper worked for Mayors for Peace prior to his position as chair of Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.  Starting in 2001, he began working to get Mayors for Peace more active at the United Nations, and in 2003 he launched an Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons.  Also called the 2020 Vision Campaign, its purpose is to eliminate all nuclear weapons in the world by the year 2020.46   As part of this campaign, by 2010 they must have a framework agreement ready to present for the nuclear proliferation review conference.  Every five years, the UN meets to discuss the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and according to Steve Leeper:

"Most of [the nuclear disarmament community] consider that this 2010 review is going to be absolutely critical.  Decisive.  That we will decide at that point in time whether we are going to get rid of nuclear weapons or whether we’re going to let everybody have one."47

This directly relates to the political opportunity theory, which claims the success of social movements relies in part on the opportunities created by the state.48   In this case, however, international law, or the United Nations, has created an opportunity rather than a national government doing so.  The conference in 2010 is being anticipated by the nuclear disarmament world as a prime political opportunity, one that could swing either to their advantage or far from it.49


I found that the World Friendship Center holds only one connection to political elites, and this connection is unintentional.  According to Kent and Sarah Sweitzer, the World Friendship Center is “not political and not associated with any religious…affiliation.”50   The only connection to the government is Steve Leeper, who is a member of the Japanese board of directors at the World Friendship Center, but also acts as chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, affiliated with the Hiroshima city government.  This tie between the World Friendship Center and Hiroshima city is only incidental, however; Steve Leeper served on the World Friendship Center’s board for a long time before he was appointed to his position at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.51  The connection may provide some degree of acceptance for the World Friendship Center to participate in Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation-sponsored activities, though this relationship is unclear from my research.  According to Sarah Sweitzer:

"The Peace Culture Foundation has sponsored several activities that [the World Friendship Center] can go to participate, support…they just finished sponsoring an international exchange day and WFC had a booth there where we talked about our programs."52

Whether or not this participation of the World Friendship Center in the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation-sponsored international exchange day would have been possible without the World Friendship Center’s connection to Steve Leeper is unknown to me.  Sarah Sweitzer also commented on Steve Leeper’s presence at Riji board meetings: "Several times there’s been a lot of controversy about something, he’ll say something, and all of a sudden the group morphs to his perspective, and there we are!"53

Leeper began as an activist at the World Friendship Center, eventually became chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, and is still serving on the board of the World Friendship Center with a great amount of influence.  Sarah Sweitzer’s observation can not be certainly attributed to one cause or another, but it’s possible that Leeper has gained more respect from the Riji since his new appointment as the chair of HPCF in April 2007.  The link that Leeper holds to the city is a significant point of interest because of the potential for the World Friendship Center to use it to its own ends.  Leeper is also well-respected because he “brings the understanding of both Eastern and Western…cultures.”54   Since the World Friendship Center is an organization run by both Americans and Japanese, an understanding of both cultures is particularly important, and Steve Leeper has lived for several years in both places and is fluent in Japanese as well as English.


The outcomes of each organization’s goals are, naturally, still in action.  The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation shows steady progress by the Non-Governmental Organization Mayors for Peace.  The first World Conference of Mayors for Peace gathered approximately 100 cities in 1985, and up until 2003 it had only grown to include a total of about 500 cities.55   Since 2003, however, with the new 2020 Vision Campaign, the number has grown to stand at 2,817 member cities from 127 countries as of April 1, 2009.56   The outcome of the 2020 Vision Campaign will be greatly affected by the 2010 Nuclear Proliferation Treaty review conference at the United Nations, and it can be concretely measured in the year 2020.57   The rest of the outcomes related to the goals of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation lie in the future.  It is yet to be determined whether or not the human race will move from a war culture to a peace culture; we do not yet know if anyone will use nuclear weapons in the next 2 or 3 years.  Also, the results of the efforts to reach the global public through media campaigning remain to be seen, but it appears that the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation will be able to draw upon enough resources and influence to be able to afford such a campaign.


The World Friendship Center’s outcomes are even harder to assess.  What is the evidence of friendships being forged across continents?  What is the evidence of individual people connecting with the non-nuclear message they may hear while visiting Hiroshima?  Sarah Sweitzer agrees, and says, “it’s hard to measure the things we really achieve because in a way they aren’t really measurable.”58   However, I can draw upon my own experience as a guest of the WFC because I am an example of the focus of their efforts to accomplish the goals of building cross-cultural friendships and communicating the anti-nuclear message.  For instance, after spending two weeks in Japan as a member of the Peace Ambassador Exchange Program, I now have several friendships with the Japanese people.  I am friends with another student who was on the trip who is half Japanese and half American.  She grew up in Japan and is now studying at a university in the United States.  Also, I was hosted by a family in Nagasaki for three days, and the relationships I formed there are so close that I write to them and refer to the two teenage daughters in the family as sisters.  There are several more of which I could speak, but those are the most significant examples.  The World Friendship Center did indeed succeed at helping to facilitate the creation of cross-cultural friendships in my case.  In addition, I was exposed to the non-nuclear message throughout the whole of my experience in Japan.  Some examples of how I heard it were by the following experiences: watching the Home Box Office (HBO) movie White Light/Black Rain (2007), a documentary of the atomic bombings; listening to hibakusha share their stories and having personal conversations with them; engaging in seemingly constant dialogue with the hosts of the World Friendship Center, other members of the Riji, and my fellow travelers on issues related to nuclear power; and participating in several meetings, conferences, and ceremonies.  Receiving, understanding and engaging in the non-nuclear message was the main focus of my trip, and I have returned to the United States equipped with knowledge, interest, compassion and energy to share this message with other Americans.  This, I believe, shows that the goal of the World Friendship Center to personally relate the experience of nuclear weapons to individuals succeeded, at least in my case.




In short, I compared the goals, strategies, tactics and outcomes of the two social movement organizations in question, identified similarities, differences and patterns between them, and related my findings to the political opportunity theory.  Both social movement organizations share the goal of disseminating the non-nuclear message on a global scale with a theme of never allowing another nuclear attack like the one on Hiroshima to happen again, although each organization relies on different means to reach this goal.


The strategies and tactics that each social movement organization employs to achieve their goals differ from one another, but in both organizations their strategies are affected by the level of elite support they receive.  The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is an elite organization, and all of its strategies operate at a level of elitism that the World Friendship Center, a grassroots organization, simply would not be able to achieve.  The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is concerned with explicitly political issues like voters and United Nations conferences.  Steve Leeper is a prime example of Caniglia’s assessment that the boundaries are blurring between movements and institutional politics.  Caniglia claims that in reality movement actors and political elites frequently share similar beliefs and are interacting more often.59   Leeper’s position and actions take this claim one step further.  He is both a movement activist because of his involvement in the World Friendship Center as well as a political elite due to his position in the government.  Because of this intimate, elite avenue that the anti-nuclear movement is using through the Hiroshima city government, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is able to employ strategies and tactics that directly target voters, politicians and international decisions.  Specifically, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation’s tactics include raising money through Mayors for Peace to hire a public relations firm and market a global campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons, focus global public attention on the 2010 NPT review conference, and arouse grassroots interest.  These actions are possible because of the political standing the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation holds.


The World Friendship Center is concerned with positively impacting the individual experiences of visitors to Hiroshima.  Its strategy is to help travelers make personal connections that will influence their views on nuclear issues and prompt them to spread the nuclear disarmament message when they return home.  The World Friendship Center’s tactics include offering English language classes, giving tours of the Peace Park, introducing hibakusha to travelers, exchanging students with other countries, participating in the local Peace Choir, and working with a nursing home for hibakusha.  These are grassroots tactics.  The World Friendship Center has neither the funds nor the degree of political support that would be necessary to work at an elite level.  Without this, political opportunities for the World Friendship Center are severely limited.  Although the World Friendship Center is connected to one elite player, Steve Leeper, the organization remains focused on grassroots efforts and does not aim to directly target institutional politics.


As a result of their respective strategies and tactics, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and the World Friendship Center produce different outcomes.  I showed that the World Friendship Center has impacted me personally, so in all likelihood it has done the same for others who have walked through its doors.  The World Friendship Center successfully facilitates the formation of cross-cultural friendships and contributes to the distribution of information to encourage nuclear disarmament.  However, the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation achieves this dissemination on a much wider and politically influential scale.  Its message and efforts reach thousands of cities through Mayors for Peace.  The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation has a chance of influencing United States’ politics through its atomic-bomb exhibition tour.  It has a chance of influencing international politics through the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in 2010.  Apparently, elite support leads to more political opportunities, which creates an outcome on a larger political scale for the organization.


The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is able to speak to the world in a louder and more politically effective way than the World Friendship Center.  This does not invalidate the work of the World Friendship Center, but it does mean that within the political opportunity perspective, elite support makes a difference on a larger scale in how the message is relayed, who receives it, and who is influenced.  This implies that organizations with elite support are able to reach audiences to influence organizations and political actions which organizations lacking elite support cannot.


Using this basis of understanding, social movement actors can work accordingly to strategize more effectively.  If the goal of an organization is to make a political difference or to reach a mass audience, then the organization needs significant elite ties.  This will provide financial support, public legitimacy, long-term stability and effective influence.  By reaching a mass audience, the anti-nuclear movement, and specifically the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, is working to refocus the global public’s attention on controversial nuclear issues.  If other organizations in the anti-nuclear movement take this research into consideration and alter their strategies and tactics to connect with elites, the nuclear disarmament message will travel even further and open the door wider to a global discussion of nuclear power.


My research is limited, however, because I only investigated two social movement organizations, which makes it less likely that generalizations to broader social movement theory will be accurate.  Future research should compare a wider range of organizations in the anti-nuclear weapons movement and should expand to other movements, as well.  I think it would be useful to research an organization without political ties but with explicitly political goals to compare it to an organization which is connected to elites and also has political goals.


In sum, elite political support affects the way that the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and the World Friendship Center operate in terms of goals, strategies, tactics and outcomes.  The level of connection between these social movement organizations and elites affects the nature of some of their goals, though each organization kept the one overriding goal that defines their shared movement.  The presence or absence of elite support determines the political opportunities available to that SMO.  This in turn affects the strategies and tactics that are open to a social movement organization.  Most importantly, my findings mean that elite political support affects the outcomes of the social movement organization and greatly determines the ability of an organization to reach a global audience and influence political change.   


Mary graduated in 2009 from Manchester University with a B.S. in Peace Studies and a minor in Sociology. She completed this paper for the Social Movements course in Fall 2007. This paper was presented in the 2008 Student Research Symposium at Manchester, and the 2009 Student Peace Conference at the University of Notre Dame.


1. Douglass Roche, The Ultimate Evil: The Fight to Ban Nuclear Weapons (Toronto, Ontario: James Lorimer and Co., 1997), 53.

2. World Friendship Center, World Friendship Center, 2007, < http://www.wfchiroshima.net> (5 December 2007).

3. Roche, 9.

4. Ibid., 14.

5. Steve Leeper, interview by Mary Cox, 12 November 2007.

6. Nanao Kamada, One Day in Hiroshima: An Oral History (Hiroshima, Japan: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, 2007), 95.

7. Ibid., 95.

8. “Opinion Poll Reveals Americans, Russians Support Nuclear Disarmament,” News Post India, 9 November 2007, <http://www.newspostindia.com/report-22722> (9 November 2007).

9. Ibid.

10. Leeper, interview.

11. Steven Aftergood and Hans M. Kristensen, “Nuclear Weapons Program,” Federation of American Scientists, 16 November 2006, <http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/dprk/nuke/index.html> (2 December 2007).

12. Leeper, interview.

13. Roche, 9.

14. Ibid., 21-23.

15. Jeff Goodwin and James M. Jasper, eds., The Social Movements Reader: Cases and Concepts (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 6.

16. Beth Caniglia, “Informal Alliances vs. Institutional Ties: The Effects of Elite Alliances on Environmental TSMO Networks,” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 6, no.1 (2001): 38.

17. Ibid., 39.

18. Ibid.

19. Tim Doyle, “Dissent Within the Environment Movement,” Social Alternatives 13, no.2 (1994): 26.

20. Caniglia, 39.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid., 40.

23. Ibid., 38-39.

24. Goodwin and Jasper, 6.

25. Caniglia, 40.

26. Ibid., 42.

27. Ibid., 43.

28. Ibid., 44, 50.

29. Ibid., 38.

30. Ibid., 37.

31. Ann Lewins, Celia Taylor, and Graham R. Gibbs, “What is Qualitative Data Analysis?” School of Human Health Sciences, 2 December 2005, <http://onlineqda.hud.ac.uk/Intro_QDA/what_is_qda.php> (2 December 2007).

32. Ibid.

33. Leeper, interview.;

Kent Sweitzer and Sarah Sweitzer, interview by Mary Cox, 23 November 2007.

34. Steven Lloyd Leeper, “Building a Culture of Peace: the Short-term Priorities,” United Nations Institute for Training and Research, 30 August 2007 <http://www.unitar.org> (6 November 2007), 3.

35. Leeper, interview.

36. Ibid., 1-2.

37. Sweitzer and Sweitzer, interview.

38. World Friendship Center.

39. Michiko-san, Hiroshima Peace Park, 4 August 2007, atomic bomb remembrance ceremony (4 August 2007).

40. Leeper, interview.

41. Ibid.

42. Sweitzer and Sweitzer, interview.

43. Sweitzer and Sweitzer, interview.

44. Leeper, interview.

45. Ibid.

46. Ibid.

47. Leeper, interview.

48. Goodwin and Jasper, 6.

49. Leeper, interview.

50. Sweitzer and Sweitzer, interview.

51. Ibid.

52. Sweitzer and Sweitzer, interview.

53. Ibid.

54. Ibid.

55. Leeper, interview.

56. “Mayors for Peace,” Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, 2001, <http://www.mayorsforpeace.org.html> (5 December 2007).

57. Leeper, interview.

58. Sweitzer and Sweitzer, interview.

59. Caniglia, 40 - 42.

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