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CSSN Scholar Publications

It Happened Behind Closed Doors: Legislative Buffering as an Informal Mechanism of Political Mediation”

October 6, 2020

Author(s): Dr. Joshua Basseches


The political mediation model explains movement policy outcomes ranging from complete failure to total success. However, the qualitative mechanisms through which political mediation occurs empirically remain understudied, especially as they relate to the content-specifying stages of the legislative process. Furthermore, while we know that political mediation is context dependent, key elements of what political context entails remain underspecified. This article addresses these gaps by tracing the influence of a coalition of social movement organizations (SMOs) seeking to simultaneously shape the content of two major climate bills in a progressive U.S. state where the climate movement enjoys a relatively favorable political context overall. Comparing the divergent trajectories and outcomes of the two bills illuminates the process of legislative buffering, which is conceptualized as an informal mechanism of political mediation. The comparative analysis also reveals situational elements of political context that can present additional hurdles movements must overcome to maximize their success.