Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Strategy, Women's movement, urban squatters' movement, Portugal, Political Context

Major Advisor

Cyrus E. Zirakzadeh

Associate Advisor

Peter Kingstone

Associate Advisor

Jennifer Sterling-Folker

Field of Study

Political science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


This dissertation examines how social-movements’ strategy develops as social-movement organizations (SMOs) interact with shifting political contexts. I define strategy as an interactive, purposive, and adaptable process through which SMOs define themselves and other groups, develop grievances, attribute blame (diagnoses), and devise plans of action to enact the change they want to see in society (prognoses). Using archival research, interviews, primary and secondary literature, I present an in-depth case analysis of women’s and squatters’ strategies in Portugal across three different political opportunity structures (POS). I investigate three dimensions of POS: 1) constitutional arrangements and laws on mobilization; 2) elite alignments and elite alliances with social movements; and 3) repression/facilitation by police forces. These dimensions are examined across three periods of political change in Portugal: revolution (1974-1976), democracy (1976-1986), European Union membership (1986-2008). Most studies of social movements in Portugal have focused on either repression and protest during the dictatorial regime, or on class-based struggles during the revolution (1974-1976). Little attention has been paid to the dynamics between these social movements and the evolving state and elite actors. Portugal offers a rich case for studying such contextual variation. I find that, when mobilizing at the same time, the women’s and squatters’ strategies did not respond to the same changes in POS. Yet, for both movements, changes in elite alignments were the most consistent predictors of changes in strategy. For women, strategies tended to converge in the post-EU period.