The Social Movement of the 21st Century

The Social Movement of the 21st Century

As we explored and examined some of the actions of social movements in San Francisco, some parts of the site of the city bring me to feel like observing some actual life-size works from the Adbusters magazine. This EL Summer trip enabled me to see the actions and practices through which people make choices, shape action, and crate social movement in San Francisco. Once we step into one of the street sides, we could find some social active messages or event announcements, such as AIDS Walk, Asian Heritage Street Celebration, Union Street Festival, Fiesta Filipina, and San Francisco Gay Pride Parade as well. This most diverse city have gone through in the history throughout from increasing the wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America to America’s counterculture of Beat Generation, Hippies in Haight-Ashbury, and the gay rights movement, and experienced many various progressive social activism. At the same time, social movement in San Francisco reflect the general trend to the inclusiveness and acceptance of general world trends to integration of social movements.
San Francisco has a long history of the development of social movements. In fact, the local population readily accepted the most progressive trends in social movements of different epochs. For instance, in 1950s, there was the civil rights movement that black people appealed to for liberation. In 60-70s, there was the woman leap that women appealed to for liberation and ecoactivity as for 80-90s. In our time, in the late twentieth century, social movements in San Francisco have started to acquire new features typical to the general trends of the modern world. Recently, the term “globalization” has been coined, and this leads us to answer the question: what would be the ideal social movement of the 21st century?
The process of globalization affected all spheres of life. Naturally, social movements could hardly fail to resist to its impact. Basically, globalization encouraged the development of networks, identities and opportunities of organizations across borders. For the matter, even when social movements never place a toe in transnational waters, the fact that their societies are affected by globalization makes their domestic actions part of global civil society.
Some of have begun to posit the development of a whole new spectrum of transnational social movements; others have focused on one particular movement like human rights, the environment, or the concerns of indigenous peoples; still others focus on cultural forms, deducing from the collapse of extinct meta-narratives a groping across borders towards new cultural codes and connections.
Nowadays, such networks continue to grow. It is quite possible to presuppose that in the future the social movement that is focused on the inclusion into the international network would have larger opportunities to gain the wide public recognition and it would be supported by larger masses of people. It seems to be obvious that, among the variety of movements existing at the moment, the social movement that has better perspectives in the future should be based on the ideology which is equally acceptable to representatives of different countries with their unique culture, traditions and standards.
The recent trends to the internationalization of social movements have been already noticed by specialists and often such movements are often referred to as "transnational social movements" (Smith, Chatfield and Pagnucco 1997), and are reflected in transnational movement organizations (TSMOs). These TSMOs are defined as "a subset of social movement organizations operating in more than two nations" (1997:43). In fact, in the situation when various communities throughout the world tends to integration, it seems to be quite natural that the ideal social movement of the 21st century will also tend to spread its ideas and network throughout different countries. Obviously, in the new, integrated world, the perspective social movement of the 21st century cannot be focused on the only one community but, instead, it needs to be attracting to people with different cultural and ideological background. In this respect, the history of the development of social movements in San Francisco and the major socio-economic trends reveal the fact that even at the present moment the local population is extremely diverse. Naturally, in the future this trend will grow stronger that means that all these people with different background stimulate social movements to be more inclusive and attractive to representatives of different socio-cultural groups (Russell 2004:201). In other words, the ideal social movement of the future will overcome national frontiers as do modern socio-economic relations and cultural interaction.
To be transnational, a social movement ought to have social and political bases outside its target society; but to be a social movement, it ought to be clearly seen to be rooted within domestic social networks and engage in contentious politics in which at least one is a party to the interaction. It should be pointed out that the existence of any social movement is impossible without the ideological background. In relation to the social movement of the 21st century, the ideology of the growing integrity of the different communities of the world into one global community in a combination with the idea of preserving of national identity seems to be quite perspective. Even though it sounds a bit contradictive, it is not improbable because this ideology implies the popularization of basic and universal principles common to representatives of different nations (Williams 2002:194). For instance, basic democratic principles, human rights and humanistic values may be viewed as a good ideological basis of a social movement that can really unite people throughout the world.
At the same time, social movements that have networks spread worldwide cannot appear spontaneously. In stark contrast, they should be based on the existing movements and they are most likely to take root among pre-existing social networks in which relations of trust, reciprocity, and cultural learning are stored. This is the thesis that Tilly developed when he placed “organization” in a triangular relationship with interest and collective action in his “mobilization model” (1978:57). In examining what kinds of groups are likely to mobilize, Tilly paid attention to both the categories of people who recognize their common characteristics, and to networks of people who are linked to each other by a specific interpersonal bond, than to formal organization (62). The resulting idea of “catnets” stressed a group’s inclusiveness as “the main aspect of group structure which affects the ability to mobilize” (64).
As a great example, one non-profit organization in San Francisco Bay Area,The Bay Area Center for Independent Culture (BACIC), in which my volunteer-work-partner Katy and I had leaned, had enlarged their social network in their unique way. Expanded from a low-budget initiative into a multimillion dollar grassroots organization that serves tens of thousands of young people annually, including some of San Francisco’s poorest youth. It is worthy of mention that the focus of social movements on the youth is very important since it is the youth that is the most perspective part of population for any social movement. The reason is quite obvious: the youth is the most active part of the population and, at the same time, young people are the most susceptible to the perception of new and progressive ideas. Perspective social movements of the 21st century may be focused on different fields and goals. For instance, conceived by the philosopher Dr. Fred Newman and the developmental psychologist Dr. Lenora Fulani, the BACIC, as a nonprofit organization, provides talent show opportunities and leadership training through two supplementary education programs: the All Stars Talent Show Network (ASTSN) and the Joseph A. Forgone Development School for Youth (DSY). This overarching organization links ASTSN and DSY with other organizations that share both resources and goals, including the Castillo Theatre and the Talented Volunteers Program. This constellation of organizations enhances the success of each component by encouraging mutual support and providing further access to resources. They form a larger community that encompasses a creative theater-based community, a youth development community, and a therapeutic community. There are also strong connections to progressive political activism within all of these communities. Thus the theatrical, youth development, and therapeutic communities are functionally related to each other, and all three are philosophically related to the progressive political community. The president of the BACIC, L. Kurlander, says;
Over 25 years, we have discerned that “development” is what is needed to move our young people and our communities from chronic poverty and all of its effects. To create this development, we built a “new kind of community” in our city that includes tens of thousands of young people, donors, volunteers, parents, artists, performers and business professionals.

This program unfolds within the geographical context of San Francisco, a center of international business and art that has developed a unique culture. Important to an understanding of the program is the vibrancy of the city’s many cultures and languages, and the pride residents take in the diversity of their city. Equally diverse are the social and economic divides that position the very rich alongside the very poor. The affluence of the city’s business life does not necessarily extend to more marginal, under-resourced communities. It is these communities that the All Stars Project has selected as its target population. The stark contrasts between the cosmopolitan corporate world and the circumscribed and underdeveloped experiences of many young people from the surrounding boroughs are the cultural dissonance on which the ASTSN/DSY programs are based. Promoting and guiding the meeting of these two worlds is the central strategy of the development project.
Another key role of interpersonal networks in movement aggregation and mobilization has obvious implications for the likelihood that social movements can form across transnational space. Even if “objective conditions” (eg., economic interdependence, cultural integration or hegemony, or institutional diffusion) produce the preconditions for the appearance of similar movements in a variety of countries, the transaction costs of linking them into integrated networks would be difficult for any social movement to accomplish in the absence of activists whose ties cross national boundaries on a regular basis and exhibit the mutual trust and reciprocity of domestic social networks. Cheap international transportation, electronic communication and lobbying, and international subcontracting provide resources for various kinds of social networks to form across national boundaries (Bob 1997; Keck and Sikkink 1998; Wellman and Giulia 1998).
Moreover, sustained cooperation with actors from other countries against the actions of one or another state or international institution is the most pregnant possibility for unbundling territorial limits. When domestic activists interact routinely with others with similar claims, they can form transnational networks and identities and take advantage of international opportunities to advance these claims.
Domestic social actors do not access the international system when they protest domestically against external agents; nor do they do so when they temporarily borrow the resources of external actors on their native soil, though much good can come of this resource borrowing. More positive outcomes can result when domestic actors externalize their claims, seeking the intervention of transnational advocacy groups, third-party organizations, or international institutions. But this mechanism is partial, selective and vertical, and can create a split between domestic and transnational activists. Internationalization, in contrast, forges horizontal links among activists with similar claims and is most likely to produce transnational social movements.
Basically, such the orientation on internationalization and closer integration implies that the ideal social movement of the 20th century would have tolerant approach to the most burning social and cultural issues. This means that it would be mainly focused on the development of basic principles common to representatives of different socio-cultural groups. In fact, this is the major condition of the further development of the social movement because, otherwise, it could not be adequately perceived in different communities that may represent even one and the same state, while in global terms the need to develop universal humanistic principles tolerant to different cultures is vitally important since it prevents the social movement from internal conflicts caused by cultural or ideological contradictions.
In conclusion, international institutions can thus play a facilitating role in all processes but are particularly important as targets and fulcra for internationalization. This leads to the paradox that international institutions can be the arenas in which transnational contention forms. I do not maintain that states create international institutions in order to encourage contention; states are more likely to delegate than to fuse sovereignty, (Moravcsek 1998). But because the norms and practices of international institutions mediate among the interests of competing states, they can provide political opportunities for weak domestic social actors, encouraging their connections with others like themselves and offering resources that can be used in intra-national and transnational conflict. At the same time, the focus on the internationalization and inclusiveness are very perspective to social movements of the 21st century.


References
Russell, G. Modern Philosophy and Society. New York: Random House, 2004.
Williams, L.D. Social Movements: Past and Future. New York: New Publishers, 2002.