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By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

What is Activism?

The word "Activism" brings to mind placard carrying individuals protesting against the established authority. However that is not really all that activism is all about. There is much more to it than shouting slogans and waving placards. Usually there are three elements involved.

The Authority
The Stance or Situation
The Activists

Here's a look at each element of activism. How it functions and why it can be effective in some situations and not in others.

The Authority

Any one who has legal power over you is the Authority. It can be your parents at home, the teacher in school, the boss in the office, the management of your company or the government that you pay taxes to. The authority sets the rules that you must follow. They are tasked with bringing order to your life in particular and society in general. However there can be some issues which you do not see eye to eye with them about. In which case you must first follow the legally permissible options of protest.

The Stance or Situation

The situation can be political, social, environmental or economic. However they all have one factor in common. The Activists are lobbying for a change in the stance of the Authority in the given situation. It could be nude activists protesting on the behalf of animals like PETA organized. Or it could be a hunger strike by a member of the opposition to protest a government decision in the house. Maybe a street march by labor unions in opposition to proposed pay cuts for workers. Or even children lobbying for extra pocket money from parents.

The Activists

These are the above mentioned placard carrying protesters. They can be from any walk of life. It can be an organized protest from a formal body such as a union. Or merely a collection of individuals with similar opinions. The stance of the situation brings them together temporarily. They usually have an agenda which tends to revolve around one main point. However implementing the agenda may include a step wise plan.

After the activists make their presence felt to the authority, some kind of formal or informal negotiations take place based on the agenda. Usually an agreement is reached which is a compromise for both sides. The authority allows the activists to get some points and the protest ends. If the main issues remain unresolved there is a high likelihood of the activists returning to their protests again.

Usually an organized protest with clear demands on its agenda is far more likely to succeed than a disorganized bunch of disgruntled protesters. Also the media plays an important part in activism of any kind. The more negative publicity that the activists can generate about the authority, the more pressure is put on the authority to reach an understanding on the stance quickly. While activism is a great way to ensure control on authority, at times it can be misused by power hungry activists. For this reason the media must ensure that when they publicize a protest they get the full story before holding the authority to ransom.



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