Relationship between democracy and social movements today

Democracy in Social Movements - Oxford Handbooks

relationship between democracy and social movements today

The theory of collective action can and has been applied when people excluded from the polity oppose the authorities on the redress of wrongs and matters of. Social movements are shaping modern democratic political life. fuelled by a myriad of new communication technologies available today. The relationships between social movement challenges and political outcomes remain strongly un- structure. Political outcomes, at least in democratic political systems, are usually the result of a parallel- made are still to the point today.

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.

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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.

relationship between democracy and social movements today

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.

relationship between democracy and social movements today

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.

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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.

At the same time, she acknowledges that using such power is a form of high-risk activism whose occasional gains are often reversed when the disruption inevitably fades away.

But what about elections? In one recent example of mass defiance, thousands of Occupy Wall Street protestors march on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Photo by Michael Whitney via flickr. Then disruptive power fractures conventional electoral coalitions and voting blocs within parties. It spurs the defection of some voters and necessitates attempts to gain new ones. In these ways, disruptive power moves electoral politics out of its routine, elite-dominated mold and makes it more responsive to ordinary people and long-neglected needs. Mass defiance can thus promote progressive policy in two ways.

The direct path is when the defiance is substantial enough to constrain elites and their choices, regardless of the electoral cycle. The indirect path is when mass defiance changes the logic of electoral politics, fractures old voting blocs, creates new alliances, and thereby creates opportunities for progressive policy formation.

To summarize, while Tilly paints a historical overview of the intertwined nature of movements and democracy, Piven offers a more specific analysis of how disruptive power can alter the logic of electoral politics and foster more democratic outcomes.

relationship between democracy and social movements today

But she also sounds a cautionary note about how easily de-democratization can reverse progress in the absence of sustained disruption. A final piece of scholarship further enriches our understanding of these issues. In a forthcoming book chapter, Doug McAdam and Sidney Tarrow take their own look at the role of movements in electoral contention.

One of the more familiar links occurs when movements make a tactical decision to devote their often-scarce resources to sponsoring parties and candidates in electoral campaigns — the electoral option.

Although this may be more effective in systems based on proportional representation than in the winner-take-all districts found in the United States, there has been no shortage of third-party movements in this country. Their success on the national level has been limited, but our decentralized system has permitted more influence for these groups at the state, county, and municipal levels. A related process is proactive electoral mobilization.

Here, electoral campaigns stimulate renewed movement mobilization when people perceive an upcoming election as providing either a threat or an opportunity in relation to their interests. This impulse may lead back to the electoral option or it may lead to a more sustained mobilization that persists beyond the cyclical dynamics of electoral campaigns.

relationship between democracy and social movements today

Views expressed in this commentary are those of the staff member. This commentary is independent of specific national or political interests.

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US President Donald J. But Saturday was also noteworthy. Social movements are often issue-based collections of individuals. Thus, social movements can put in check democratically elected political leaders with populist and demagogical tendencies that may, in the long run, not provide realistic and sustainable policy alternatives.

Social movements and new communication technologies Social movements are shaping modern democratic political life. Propelled by a blog post in the aftermath of the financial crisisthe movements soon became a media sensation and later disseminated to other regional hubs.

relationship between democracy and social movements today

Various factors have contributed to the allure of these movements. On the other hand, social movements have been particularly savvy to maximize the potential of new communication technologies to directly engage with their followers and put pressure on politicians.

Currently, about 40 per cent of the population has access to the internet, a major increase since when less than 1 per cent did. Mobile phones also are broadly used: Likewise, with the proliferation of social media platforms, people have more ways to reach government representatives who use social media. Facebook has more than 1 billion daily userswhile Twitter had million users as of Marchand Instagram had million monthly active users as of December At the same time, traditional telecommunications have morphed.

TV also has been forced to adapt to this new tech-driven era. Most shows, for instance, offer short streamed clips on YouTube in the hopes of gaining traction with the viewers. One of the most successful examples has been the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Born in the United States inthe group rebranded the black liberation movement of the s around demands for greater accountability in relation to the killing of African-American men by law enforcement officers.

They have provided unprecedented visibility to this cause primarily through social media awareness. 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.