This study investigates a route to occupational activism whereby individuals with significant experience in a social movement enter organizational positions that have been established to address those same movement’s concerns. Utilizing data on the career pathways of 800 individuals from the field of sustainability in higher education, we formulate and test hypotheses related to whether or not individuals with more experience in the environmental movement gain access to sustainability manager positions, and whether or not entry patterns change as the roles become more institutionalized. These questions matter because although movements pressure organizations to address issues such as equality, diversity, and sustainability, it is individuals inside organizations who are best positioned to institutionalize movement-aligned practices and policies. And if those individuals have movement backgrounds, they can be carriers of movement praxis and ideals. Through our analyses we find that although individuals with more experience in the environmental movement have a higher likelihood of entering sustainability manager positions overall, their advantage diminishes as the positions become institutionalized as formalized organizational roles. Our findings contribute to scholarship on occupational activism and in particular to outstanding questions regarding the role of occupations and occupational members in furthering social movement ideals and initiatives inside organizations.
- occupational activism, social movements, environmental sustainability, institutionalization