chapter  1
15 Pages

Social Movements as Politics

WithCharles Tilly

“Building a strong pro-democracy social movement,” editorialized Zimbabwe’s Harare Daily News on 5 December 2002,

is always the task of civil society when operating under an oppressive political environment. … A starting point would be to be able to define a social movement. As the name suggests, social movements are inclusive organisations comprised of various interest groups. Social movements will contain the significant strata of society such as workers, womens groups, students, youth and the intellectual component. These various interest sectors of society will be bound together by one common grievance which in most cases will be the commonly perceived lack of democracy in a specific political setting. This has been particularly the case within the last two decades of the South African antiapartheid struggle and more relevantly in the last four years in Zimbabwe. The only significant difference between the Zimbabwean situation and the antiapartheid social movement in South Africa is that the former tends to be less defined and less focused. In fact, in Zimbabwe people can sometimes be forgiven for thinking that the social movement has been split. (Harare Daily News 2002: 1)