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There is adynamic, diacronic element to this process: while people often become involved inspecific movements or campaigns through their preexisting links, their very partici-pation also forges new bonds, which in turn affect subsequent developments in theiractivist careers (and, indeed, in their lives at large).





The main themes addressed hererelate to a recurrent, much broader discussion of the relationship between structure340 mario dianiand action, which since the 1990s has attracted many contributions from scholarswith a specific interest in collective action (Sewell 1992; Emirbayer and Goodwin1994; Emirbayer 1997; Emirbayer and Mische 1998; Livesay 2003).To them, protest and contentious collective action wasultimately ‘‘politics by other means,’’ and social movements were merely one of theoptions that challengers could draw upon to pursue their policy outcomes and theirquest for membership in the polity (Tilly 1978).In contrast to accounts of movementparticipation in social movements as dysfunctional behavior, social movement activ-ists and sympathizers were portrayed as rich in both cognitive resources and entre-preneurial and political skills (Oberschall 1973; Mc Carthy and Zald 1977).While the identities of social movement activists are determined by the particularcombination of their multiple group memberships, by being members of differentgroups and organizations, individuals create linkages between the latter.This per-spective enables us to better recognize that social movement activities are usuallyembedded in dense relational settings, and to explore in greater detail the web ofmultiple ties that ultimately make up a social movement.1 In the following pages, I elaborate on these basic ideas.

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