Are you an ‘activist’?

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activist

Activism is quite simply Taking Action to effect social change; this can occur in a myriad of ways and in a variety of forms. Often it is concerned with ‘how to change the world’ through social, political, economic or environmental change. This can be led by individuals but is often done collectively through social movements.

The activism industry consists of organizations and individuals engaged in activism. Activism is often done full-time, as part of an organization’s core business. Many organizations in the activism industry are either non profit organizations or non-governmental organizations. Most activist organizations do not manufacture goods.

The term ‘activism industry’ has often been used to refer to outsourced fundraising operations. However, activist organizations engage in other activities as well.

world peace summit acowLobbying, or the influencing of decisions made by government, is another activist tactic. Many groups, including law firms, have designated staff assigned specifically for lobbying purposes. In the United States, lobbying is regulated by the federal government.

Many government systems encourage public support of non-profit organizations by granting various forms of tax relief for donations to charitable organizations. Governments may attempt to deny these benefits to activists by restricting the political activity of tax-exempt organizations.

Activists can function in roles as public officials, as in judicial activism. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., introduced the term “judicial activism” in a January 1947 Fortune magazine article titled “The Supreme Court: 1947“.

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Activists are also public watchdogs and whistle blowers, attempting to understand all the actions of every form of government that acts in the name of the people: all government must be accountable to oversight and transparency. Activism is an engaged citizenry.

Some activists try to persuade people to change their behavior directly, rather than to persuade governments to change or not to change laws. Other activists try to persuade people to remain the same, in an effort to counter change. The cooperative movement seeks to build new institutions which conform to cooperative principles, and generally does not lobby or protest politically.

As with those who engage in other activities such as singing or running, the term may apply broadly to anyone who engages in it even briefly, or be more narrowly limited to those for whom it is a vocation, habit, or characteristic practice. In the narrower sense, environmental activists that align themselves with Earth First or Road Protestors would commonly be labeled activists, whilst a local community fighting to stop their park or green being sold off or built on would fit the broader application, due to their using similar means to similarly conservative ends. In short, activism is not always an action by Activists.

For more than fourteen years, groups involved in various forms of activism have been using the Internet to advance organizational goals. It has been argued that the Internet helps to increase the speed, reach and effectiveness of activist-related communication as well as mobilization efforts, and as a result has had a positive impact on activism in general.

The activism industry consists of organizations and individuals engaged in activism. Activism is often done full-time, as part of an organization’s core business. Many organizations in the activism industry are either non profit organizations or non-governmental organizations. Most activist organizations do not manufacture goods.

Many government systems encourage public support of non-profit organizations by granting various forms of tax relief for donations to charitable organizations. Governments may attempt to deny these benefits to activists by restricting the political activity of tax-exempt organizations.

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Permanent Culture Now says:

“It’s not where you’re from; it’s not where you’re at: it’s what you do.”

Many people can be classified as activists and many actions can be interpreted as activism, but this doesn’t mean that all activism is carried out by activists. The term activist itself is contentious, as what constitutes an activist and what actions can be defined as activism are often contested.

“The activist is a specialist or an expert in social change. To think of yourself as being an activist means to think of yourself as being somehow privileged or more advanced than others in your appreciation of the need for social change, in the knowledge of how to achieve it and as leading or being in the forefront of the practical struggle to create this change… Defining ourselves as activists’ means defining our actions as the ones which will bring about social change, thus disregarding the activity of thousands upon thousands of other non-activists. Activism is based upon this misconception that it is only activists that do social change.”

It is crucial to not fall into the trap of alienating oneself by doing this, as it can lead to a sense of delusion that you solely are the bringer of change, combined with a distancing of yourself from the wider population and also alienating those who may be supportive.

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When viewing or considering becoming involved in activism, it pays to be realistic about what you hope to achieve and what impact you may have. Sometimes, activism can lead to misconceptions about the change you can help foster so it pays to remain grounded about what individual potential you may have. The reality is that activism is not about how people look or the clothes they wear: the ‘sine qua non’ of activism is doing.

When looking at activism in action, look not at how groups define themselves but rather, what they do as this is often much more informative and decisive.

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The Activist Network is a connecting tool for social justice and environmental activism. We facilitate communications between activists and organizations, … HERE.

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