While much scholarship addresses the formation and evolution of liberal social movements in the United States, there is relatively little attention given to conservative movements. Thus, we have little understanding of why these conservative movements form, what kind of resources they mobilize in pursuit of their goals, and under what conditions they are successful or unsuccessful. To address this shortcoming, in this I.S. I examined two cases of Conservative anti- federal public lands rebellions: the Sagebrush Rebellion and the Patriot Front. Using Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT) as a theoretical framework, I analyze the factors that led to the development of both the Sagebrush Rebellion and the Patriot Front, as well as what kind of resources each group was able to utilize in pursuit of their shared goal of reverting control of public lands from the federal government to the states. Through a qualitative approach that combines archival work and content analysis of popular media coverage, I found a shift in the framing and tactics between these two cases that went from framing the massive amounts of public lands in the west as an infringement on State’s rights under the Sagebrush Rebellion, to a framing that federal control of public lands amounted to a violation of individual freedoms under the Patriot Front. In addition to these shifts in framing, I identify shifts in tactics and relationships with mainstream political actors and discuss how these nonmaterial resources impacted the potential for success of both movements. I also discuss how these findings carry weight for future analyses of conservative social movements in the United States, especially with the evolution of American conservatism reflected by both the Sagebrush Rebellion and the Patriot Front.


Muñoz, Avi


Political Science


American Politics


American Conservatism, U.S. Politics, Resource mobilization theory, social movements, political science, sociology, Sagebrush rebellion, Regionalism, Western United States, Federalism, Public Lands

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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