Urban Studies Senior Seminar Papers

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Suggested Citation:
Schwartz, Daniel. "Recruiting for Sanctuary: Explaining Involvement in the Original and New Sanctuary Movements of Philadelphia." University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies Program. 2009.


This paper, by using a combination of theoretical approaches, seeks to explain why and how people get involved in social movements. To answer this question, I chose to investigate the recruitment strategies and circumstances of the Original and New Sanctuary Movements (OSM and NSM, respectively) within the greater Philadelphia metropolitan region. Though distinct movements, both the OSM and NSM can be defined as faith-based initiatives that brought together collectives of Americans to fight against the U.S. government for increased immigrant and refugee rights. Their manifestations within Philadelphia, which have previously been ignored in the academic literature, provide a suitable comparative case study for this topic. With data gathered through qualitative methods, such as interviews, archival research, and participant observation, I argue that despite similar religious and political cultures contributing to social protest involvement in both sanctuary movements, the NSM must make better use of other recruiting factors like story-telling, political networking and active civil disobedience if it wishes to replicate (or even exceed) the OSM’s success. I also argue that many existing sociological accounts for social movement involvement rely too heavily on rational, utilitarian explanations. These theoretical approaches to understanding collectivized protest behavior are useful to a point, but movements like the OSM and NSM indicate that humans operate within a web of complex and dynamic forces resistant to static categorization.


Urban Studies; Philadelphia; sanctuary



Date Posted: 28 July 2010