Social movement

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Social movements are a type of group action. They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist or undo a social change.


  • Far too often movements revert to a position in which membership and joint political work are based on a necessarily similar history of oppression—but this is too much like identity politics. Instead, I am suggesting here that the process of movement building be rooted not in our shared history or identity but in our shared marginal relationship to dominant power that normalizes, legitimizes, and privileges.
    • Cathy J. Cohen, "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?" Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology (Duke University Press: 2005), p. 43
  • What gives me hope? It's the movements. Movements often start with a courageous act of resistance. These are not isolated acts. They are inspired by past movements. And they inspire future ones.
    • Amy Goodman Introduction, Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America (2016)
  • A movement, even a radical movement, is also an institution with its own set of leaders, power dynamics and hierarchy.
    • Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz “Nine Suggestions For Radicals, or Lessons From the Gulf War” in The Issue is Power: Essays on Women, Jews, Violence and Resistance (1992)
  • Social movements for global democracy and justice should try not only to build on and create global legal and regulatory institutions, but also to expand possibilities for transnational association and public spheres.
    • Iris Marion Young, Inclusion and Democracy (2000), Ch. 7: Self-Determination and Global Democracy

See also

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