Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Troy Gibson

Advisor Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs


This thesis explores the connection between the elite theory and social movements by comparing the success of the pro-life and gay rights movements in America and investigating the effects that elite influence has had on these movements. The research is deductive in nature, investigating the elite theory in relation to social movements. The methodology of this project is organized as a comparative analysis between the gay rights and pro-life causes. The research discovers that elite influence, whether a social movement appeals to morality politics or interest group politics, and what kind of policy changes a movement seeks to affect all influence the levels of success that activists have, at least in the specific movements investigated. It is theorized that the most influential aspects of these successful movements could be implemented by any non-specific social movement that sought to emulate the success found by the gay rights activists, but it is recognized that more research would be necessary for this to be practical and much of the data would need to be quantified to become practically useful on a scale large enough for it to be generally applicable.