Researchers and organizers recognize that social movements experience periods of inception, expansion, and decline. Although the movement literature is laden with numerous theoretical formulations on this topic, there are few articles that overtly address the issue of data collection. This paper addresses this methodological issue in detail. In doing so, we use previous media research and two case studies to illustrate the problems associated with the most frequently used data sources of event size. Finally, the paper suggests several research strategies that might enhance the accuracy of those studies that try to trace the protest cycles of community organizing efforts.
Journal of Community Practice, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1999.