Diaspora and the Polity: How Political Opportunity Structures Affect Diaspora Movement Mobilization and Outcomes

Audrey Ann Faber

Researchers, policy-makers and the media have quickly come to the same conclusion: diaspora have significant potential to impact their host-countries. The research, however, applying social movement theory to explain the nature and actions of these groups is limited. Even more limited - bordering on non-existent - is the application of political opportunity structure theory to explain their mobilization, tactics and success. This dissertation adds to the current discussion by addressing a startling gap within the current literature: what impact do political opportunity structures have on diaspora movement mobilization and outcomes? This goal will be achieved through qualitative case studies of three diaspora groups in two new democracies, and two established democracies.

One hallmark of the political opportunity literature is the long-standing understanding that political opportunity structures are far weaker in non-democratic nations. However, since the development of this theoretical framework, the world has seen an expansion of new democracies, especially in Latin America and South Asia. By including new democracies in this dissertation, this theoretical framework stands to be expanded and updated.