Between peaks of social movement activity (marches, demonstrations, legislative pushes). When things are (barely) ticking over, and people are mostly worried about different issues – what do the ones who are committed to a specific cause do? What should they do? How can they increase their absorptive capacity, their dynamic capabilities? Good questions, eh?
Abeyance depicts a holding pattern in which a social movement manages to sustain itself and mount a challenge to authorities in a hostile political and cultural environment, thereby providing continuity from one stage of mobilization to another. Abeyance carries with it the connotation of movement decline, failure, and demobilization relative to peaks of mobilization. When a movement declines, it does not necessary disappear. Rather, pockets of movement activity may continue to exist and can serve as starting points of a new cycle of the same or a new movement at a later point in time. During periods of abeyance, movements sustain themselves but develop distinct repertoires of contention that are different from the mobilizing structures and tactical repertoires of movements in a stage of mass mobilization. A social movement in abeyance may provide linkages to new rounds of mobilization through activist networks, an established repertoire of goals and tactics, and by constructing a collective identity that can serve as a symbolic resource for subsequent mobilization.
Social Movement Continuity: The Women’s Movement in Abeyance. Taylor, Verta. American Sociological Review, Oct 1989, Vol.54(5), p.761
See also Cycles of protest