Social Movement Diffusion? The Case of Disability Protests in the US and Canada


  • Sharon N. Barnartt



This paper asks if disability protests in Canada diffused from similar protests in the US or if they sprang up independently. It analyzes 1215 American protests and 177 Canadian protests which occurred between 1970 and 2005. It shows that Canadian protests began later than protests in the US, are more likely than American protests to be impairment-specific, are more likely to have demands in which focus on services as opposed to rights and are more likely to target provincial governments. Explanations include the effect of several notable protest successes and the development of multiple-impairment, single-issue organizations in the American context, and the social structure of disability services at the local or provincial levels in the Canadian context. The paper concludes that Canadian protests did not occur because of American protests or diffuse from them.






Special Topic: Disability in Canada