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Edward Walker

Edward Walker

Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles
Fellow, 2021-22

Edward Walker will focus on two projects while at CASBS. The first is a set of studies on authenticity in social movements: (1) using large-scale text analysis, he will create indices of movement groups’ grassroots and institutional authenticity; (2) he will examine how movement insiders perceive the authenticity of a movement organization; (3) he will examine how authenticity affects recognition by policy elites; (4) he will carry out a series of experiments on how authenticity affects willingness to donate to and/or volunteer for a cause.  

In the second project, Walker will extend his NSF-supported work on the sources and outcomes of campaigns pressing companies for transparency around their political expenditures. The project has already collected a database of protests against S&P 500 companies over more than a decade, in addition to data on shareholder activism and companies’ political transparency. During his time at CASBS, Walker will carry out analyses of which firms are most likely to be targeted for pro-transparency campaigns and also which will make voluntary reforms. The project will have implications for corporate politics in the post-Citizens United era.

Walker’s prior work has been devoted to understanding how protest repertoires intersect with institutional processes, and how industry actors co-opt movement structures to facilitate contentious practices of their own. These themes were initiated in his early papers in the American Sociological Review and American Journal of Sociology, and developed further especially in his book Grassroots for Hire: Public Affairs Consultants in American Democracy (Cambridge UP, 2014, winner of the Charles Tilly Award). He has also been interested in the changing politics of public participation, as developed in his volume Democratizing Inequalities (NYU Press, 2015, with Lee and McQuarrie). Most recently, he has studied the anti-fracking movement and industry responses to it, including his 2015 American Sociological Review paper (winner of two best paper awards from the American Sociological Association). His media commentaries have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CSPAN Book TV, and other outlets.

Walker is Professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and a former RWJF Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan.