Purdue University Graduate School
Cox_Jenean_Dissertation-PDF.pdf (1.23 MB)

Demanding Rights under High Stress: Dilemmas of Leadership and Sustaining Local Participation in the U.S. Immigrant Rights Movement

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posted on 2021-11-22, 13:49 authored by Jenean CoxJenean Cox

Immigrants have limited opportunities for political engagement in the United States without fear of police profiling and deportation. Leaders in the U.S. immigrant rights movement must find ways of encouraging participation in local immigrant rights activism efforts despite the hostile political climate against immigrants in the United States. In the U.S. immigrant rights movement, local participation in community-based immigrant rights organizations (CBIROs) is an important part of sustaining immigrant rights efforts. This dissertation examines how leaders’ interactions with members influence the likelihood that members will continue to participate in CBIROs. I draw on 29 in-depth interviews with both members and leaders in the Muslim-American Rights Alliance (MARA), a CBIRO in the Midwest. MARA’s leaders use authority signals, inclusion practices, and legitimacy tactics to address the dilemmas associated with sustaining local member participation in the U.S. immigrant rights movement. MARA’s leaders use supportive and inspirational authority signals to maintain the charismatic authority of MARA’s Executive Director. MARA’s leaders use political education and decision-making inclusion practices to counteract the consequences of oligarchy within MARA. MARA’s leaders use professional and street legitimacy tactics to establish the organization’s legitimacy within the local immigrant rights community. The findings from this dissertation allow for new insights into how leadership in CBIROs influences sustained participation in local immigrant rights activism.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Sociology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Bert Useem

Additional Committee Member 2

David C. Atkinson

Additional Committee Member 3

Rachel L. Einwohner

Additional Committee Member 4

Carolyn C. Perrucci

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