Ritualizing Social Problems: Claimsmakers in the Institutionalization of Anti-Hazing Legislation
Gayadeen, Shashi Marlon
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As neoinstitutional research has proliferated over the last three decades, the importance of claimsmakers ([institutional] actors), those individuals that mediate social problems or agendas, has become increasingly obscured as neoinstitutional scholars emphasized exogenous factors, such as the media, in their explanations of institutional change. This dissertation is situated within the resurgence of interest in revisiting key analytical components of an institutional analysis; specifically, the resources and organizational work of actors who seek to mobilize change. To get leverage on the role of claimsmakers, I compare two empirical cases in which neoinstitutional theory would predict that the diffusion of a state-level social policy should be isomorphic, but outcomes suggest otherwise. I compare North Dakota, one of the 44 states that have adopted an anti-hazing law, with South Dakota, one of six states that have abstained from the national trend. These states are demographically, politically and culturally very similar, yet have very different outcomes on hazing policy. Therefore, they provide a good case study of institutional change. Legislative documents, audio recordings and interviews systematically detail how claimsmakers in North Dakota, unlike South Dakota, wielded considerable social and cultural capital that framed, mobilized and informed constituents of the social problem afoot. The contributions of this study reach beyond anti-hazing legislation by discussing theoretical and empirical similarities to other social problem agendas that seek legal intervention, such as bullying. Very much analogous to the mitochondrion of a cell, claimsmakers procure the "energy" (resources) to generate and cultivate organizational change.