Hivos International

Social Movements

It is a well-known fact that extension of universal citizenship rights to all citizens regardless of their socio-economic status, were considered as a feature of the progress of modern societies. This approach is widely contested in 1980s due to the growth of social movements which challenge the traditional form of citizenship. The main theme in these movements were/are differences of gender, ethnicity, and “race”. New social movements have also challenged the idea of same set of rights for all citizens in a single universal citizenship.

Citizen action and the perverse confluence of opposing agendas

Are people organizing against injustice in ways that differ fundamentally from those of recent decades? And, today's uprisings and mobilizations compared to their predecessors, do you find more continuity than difference? These and other question on contemporary citizen action and the Occupy movement are addressed by Lisa Veneklasen in her highly interesting article onopendemocracy.net. Here you will find a short introduction of her article.

Politics is central to development discourse, yet remains peripheral.  And, over some twenty years, a civil society narrative has not fulfilled  its potential to ‘bring politics back in’. Reasons can be found in  conceptual confusion, in selectivity in donor thinking and policies  towards civil society and in the growth-driven political economy of  NGO-ism.

Are we entering a post-NGO era in development? Aid critics very much  suggest so. Hailed as a magic bullet for development two decades ago,  NGOs are increasingly criticized for being ineffective agents of change,  out of touch with broader social currents in society and operating in a  fragmented way. Under pressure to show results, NGOs and their donors  are increasingly attempting to align with social movements in a bid to  scale up their impact. Social movements are an older, looser form of  organizing with a better track-record in structural societal change.

Are we entering a post-NGO era in development? Aid critics very much  suggest so. Hailed as a magic bullet for development two decades ago,  NGOs are increasingly criticized for being ineffective agents of change,  out of touch with broader social currents in society and operating in a  fragmented way. Under pressure to show results, NGOs and their donors  are increasingly attempting to align with social movements in a bid to  scale up their impact. Social movements are an older, looser form of  organizing with a better track-record in structural societal change.

Video: Knowledge & Change

For the Knowledge and Change Dialogue correspondents of Metropolis TV explore with you the impacts and politics of knowledge on the ground. What does it mean when a country is dominated by coloured information? What does it mean when you change the dynamics of information by crowd sourcing it and giving people a voice? See the video here.

This policy brief explores the emergence of organizing as a method of citizen action for change, as it differs from mobilizing and other approaches to problem-solving. The focus of organizing is on developing civic agency as a central element of work on concrete issues. Civic agency is defined as capacities for self-directed collective action in open settings with no predetermined outcomes but a general orientation to the common good.covery’ of civic agency in aided development.

This essay summarizes the features of civic driven change emerging from the essays that could give value to the being and doing of private aid agencies. It then focuses on the ‘Monday morning’ question of steps that agencies can take to consider adopting a CDC discourse and approach and types of measures that would help with strategy and practical implementation.

Examples, mainly from the United States, show that public work can be an effective and practical way of expanding civic agency and engaging with political systems. Theses experiences are applied to defining and pursuing forms of democracy that are ‘developmental’ in that they build citizen capability to act against creeping technocracy and party-based politics that disempower.

Outsiders promote civic driven change in ways that implicitly assume and try to create a preferred relationship between personal and public rights and responsibilities. Drawing on cases from Hungary, this essay critically debates the role of external agencies and their political projects in defining and steering civic agency in other countries.

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