Democracy in Social Movements - Oxford Handbooks
relations– between the voices of protest in the streets and elected governmental officials. defeat in parliamentary elections on November social movement episode in which Spanish citizens improvised new ways to express their. Social movements and new challenges to représentative democracy. .. In gênerai, there is "a growth in the relationships with the institutions, relationships 20In fact, a main change in the strategy derived from the mentioned transformation. The chapter reviews some of the main contributions by past and contemporary social movements (from the labor movement to new social movements, the global .
Most significantly, the movement was directly involved in mobilizing public sentiment to remove the confederate flag that stood in front of the statehouse in South Carolina.
Movements + Elections = Democracy - The Society Pages
Can social movement replace political parties? The divided political arena will further catalyse these processes. But while it may be true that social movements are challenging the role of political parties as the single most important broker between citizens and governments, it is not right to assume that movements can entirely replace parties.
Being outside of the establishment often prevents the movements from translating their demands into policy change—to the disappointment of many of their followers. Eventually some protesters may choose to filter their initiatives through established channels before losing momentum.
The creation of the Aam Aadmi Party in India illustrates this.
The impact of the protests was further intensified by the media coverage and social media pressure that ensued. The protesters therefore had no other choice but to become a formal party if they wanted to achieve tangible policy reforms. But for a social movement to become a political party is not a walk in the park, as it changes the nature of the group.
Social Movements, Democracy, and the State
The Aam Aadmi party, for example, faced allegations of corruption within its own ranks. What traditional politicians can learn from social movements If social movements are here to stay, politicians must learn how to respond to them. And the payoff was enormous, given how cheap and easy to use these tools are.
But Trudeau is unfortunately still the exception. Traditional politicians can do more to tap into the engaging capacity of social media to communicate with their voters.
In that sense, they still have a lot to learn from activists and social movements on how to transform seemingly trivial character posts and YouTube videos into trending discussions that people across the globe share millions of times. With more than 20 million Twitter followers, Trump has certainly also mastered this skill. Most importantly, these new communication technologies have the potential to improve transparency and accountability beyond election season, even if these information flows can be unreliable.
Even though I was myself reluctant to join Twitter—which I originally thought was only used to share pictures of whatever I was eating and commenting on the Kardashians—I joined in catasur. And so far I actually found it to be a powerful tool to influence the debates that I am passionate about. In my case, I chiefly focus on political corruption and organized crime under the hashtag ProtectingPolitics. While the institutionalization of a particular movement can spell the end of effective activism, the broader institutionalization of movements as a form of contentious politics whereby ordinary people engage in collective action to pursue their interests has significantly changed our contemporary societal landscape.
The increasing prominence of social movements in societal dynamics is a theme in at least two recent theoretical traditions in sociology. First, consider how the resource mobilization approach uses economic imagery to capture the multiple levels in which movements are embedded. In this paradigm, movements are defined as preferences for change in a population, but such preferences must be converted into action through social movement organizations.
These organizations are, in turn, embedded in larger social movement industries comprised of all the social movement organizations acting on similar preferences for change. And, above social movement industries, there is an even larger unit of analysis: With the concept of a social movement sector, resource mobilization theory asserts that movements have become a permanent, institutionalized presence, coexisting alongside other well-entrenched social institutions. As McCarthy and Zald have put it, particular movements may wax and wane, but the social movement sector and its rich repertoire of contention is now a defining feature of late modern society.
The broader institutionalization of movements as a form of contentious politics has significantly changed our contemporary societal landscape. In a similar vein, Sidney Tarrow has suggested we are entering a new historical period he calls a movement society. This is the culmination of a two hundred year process.
For Tarrow, movements originated in the context of nation-state consolidation. Early challenges to the gathering of state power, however, often had a local, fleeting, temporary character.
On a more ominous note, Tarrow implies that globalization may leave transnational movements less subject to state control and that their repertoire and tactics may become more violent.
Social movements are here to stay. Social Movements and Democratization The politics of social movements vary widely. Michael Schwartz was one of my mentors in graduate school who claimed that although not all social movements are progressive, all progressive change comes from social movements. Why would elites ever accept cuts to their power, privilege, or property unless effectively challenged from below? Not all social movements are progressive, but all progressive change comes from movements.
Our richest historical analyses broadly support this logic while revealing more subtle nuances in the relationships between social movements and democratization.
More than anyone else, sociologist Charles Tilly is an insightful guide through this terrain; he identified at least five reciprocal connections between democracy and social movements. First, Tilly defined democratic regimes as involving relatively broad and equal citizenship, binding consultation between citizens and governments, and protection of citizens from arbitrary actions by government agents. He regards democracy not as a structure or even a set of institutions but as a process.
And this process can move in either direction: While the broad trend of the last two centuries has been toward democratization, there is nothing inevitable or irreversible about it. Second, Tilly clarified that, whether you look historically or cross-nationally, you find that the more democratic the government, the greater the range and variety of social movement contention.
Thus, with little or no democratization, you get no social movements. With incipient democratization, you get limited protest, but not full-fledged movements.
And finally, with extensive democratization, there is a widespread availability of movement repertoires that readily diffuse across different arenas and constituencies. Photo by Fibonnaci Blue via flickr. Any demographic, technological, or other social change that increases social networks, equalizes access to resources, insulates public politics from existing inequalities, or proliferates trust networks will facilitate both democratization and social movements.
Fourth, democratization independently promotes social movements by broadening and equalizing rights, increasing binding consultation, and expanding citizen protections.
As noted earlier, however, de-democratization can just as easily reverse these gains. Finally, Tilly finds social movements independently promote democracy when enough democracy already exists to allow them to mobilize popular support, broaden the range of participants, equalize various participants, and at least partially neutralize the effect of categorical inequalities on public politics. Social Movements and Electoral Contention Now we can drop down several levels of abstraction to examine the more specific dynamics of political protest and electoral politics.
This is the terrain of Frances Fox Piven, whose work reveals the logic of disruptive power as a movement strategy to alter electoral outcomes. In everyday social life, we are embedded in multiple social networks of cooperation. When we deliberately withhold cooperation, the resulting disruption of those networks creates power for otherwise powerless people.
Strikes, boycotts, occupations, and civil disobedience are all examples of such disruptive power in action. Disruption thus derives its leverage from the breakdown of institutionally regulated cooperation. It occurs when movements violate rules, demand nonnegotiable concessions, or use unconventional or illegal forms of collective action to their advantage.
Piven echoes my mentor Schwartz in saying that most major reforms in American history have been won through the mobilization of disruptive power.