Relationship between democracy and social movements

Democracy in Social Movements - Oxford Handbooks

relationship between democracy and social movements

The relationships between social movement challenges and political outcomes at least in democratic political systems, are usually the result of a parallel-. Our richest historical analyses broadly support this logic while revealing more subtle nuances in the relationships between social movements. The theory specifies four macro‐societal conditions for social movements The third component of the theory is a conflict dynamic between challengers and.

Social Movements, Democracy, and the State

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.

relationship between democracy and social movements

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.

relationship between democracy and social movements

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. 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.

Democratic Social Movement

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. While proactive electoral mobilization begins before an election, reactive electoral mobilization responds to a disputed election with escalating protest.

This is more likely in less democratic states, and examples range from Serbia and Zimbabwe to the Philippines and Central Asia. Even the United States, however, saw temporarily heightened protest in response to the highly contested presidential election of and its dubious resolution by the Supreme Court.

A fourth linkage involves how movements can induce party polarization.

Democratic Social Movement - Wikipedia

The stronger the movement, the more candidates feel compelled to appeal to their base, thereby reinforcing this polarizing effect. This process highlights the tension between the centrist, coalitional logic of elections and the uncompromising, purist ideologies of movements. Parties may be both the beneficiaries and the victims of this polarization as electoral rhythms and governing challenges play themselves out.

A final, and much broader process concerns the links between electoral regimes lasting decades and the corresponding fates of entire families of movements. In the twentieth century, there were three broad electoral regimes involving Republican domination from toDemocratic domination from toand Republican domination once again from to In each period, the dominant party significantly influenced the mobilization opportunities of various movements.

This last process is especially significant because of its historical sweep and its counterintuitive logic. Common sense might be tempted to say that whichever party is in power will provoke movement challenges from opposing forces, but McAdam and Tarrow claim quite the opposite: The scholarship reviewed here reminds us that electoral politics unfold in a much broader socio-historical context. 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.

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.

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.

relationship between democracy and social movements

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.