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Ideologies and Social Movements

Ideologies and Social Movements

Social movements are the expressions of the organization of civil society. They act collectively as resistance to exclusion and struggle for social inclusion. It is in the actions of these that present the social demands that a particular social class faces, materializing in activities of demonstrations such as occupations and street demonstrations provoking a social mobilization, raising awareness in the consciousness of the other individuals. But should we believe in them or are we being victims of an echo chamber?

A distinction must be made between social movements and social protests. The simple fact of going to the streets to protest against corruption, for example, does not characterize a social movement. A sporadic action, although it mobilizes a great number of demonstrators, can have in its collective representatives of social and popular movements but they do not characterize a social movement as such. Such protests and mobilization can be the fruit of the articulation of actors of social movements, NGOs, as they may include ordinary citizens who are not necessarily linked to organized movements. 

Ideology corresponds to the ideas that men make of the society in which they live. When they express “right” the existing relations, showing the interests that animate the relations, we can say that the ideology constitutes an instrument of the struggle of the social groups. If, on the contrary, ideas do not correspond to the reality of existing relations of oppression, we may say that it is a “false consciousness”.

In this sense, ideology would act as a form of the massacre of the real conditions of oppression, attending, therefore, to the interests of the dominant groups. It is the ideology that underlies the projects and practices of movements and defines the meaning of their struggles. The very form of organization and direction of a movement reveals its ideological character.

The form of organization of a social movement has important consequences in relation to its internal and external dynamics. Internally, it is observed that an organization without the proper hierarchy between leadership and base can favor a certain spontaneity of the actions, which would lead to the lack of control of the movement, resulting in its own loss. On the other hand, an organization founded on a group of leaders away from the base can be led to authoritarian and elitist practices.

A big number of organizations or social movements around the world are supported by political parties, even if they define themselves as independent and without ideology, in fact, they have a strong connection with political parties. Some of the parties have a greater connection that influences decision making. After searching how ideology can influence social movements and why this happens, one thing that I saw is that one of the motives for a social movement to be closer to a particular political party or to develop its actions may depend on the source of the subsidy. Recently in Brazil was generated a wave of critics because it was made public the amount that the Brazilian government donated to some social movements. Curiously, these social movements supported the government and publicly applauded their actions.

By making funds and the policy framework available to many concerned and dedicated people working in the non-profit sector, the leadership class can seek leaders from common communities and can make that money away to influence their actions. Economic elites, who control important foundations, also oversee the financing of numerous non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations that have historically been involved in the protest movement against the established economic and social order. 

In conclusion, organizations and social movements are something that we are all in touch with, whether direct or indirect, making it essential to understand their composition and internal dynamics. They present themselves as one organization of a group of people who share common goals, structuring their actions in an organized way, with a view to resistance or social change of the society in which they are inserted. The connection between social movements and ideology often arises when a party directly or indirectly supports a social movement.

Eduardo Pereira

Bada'lya البدائلية