Relevant Theories and Perspectives 1. Resource Mobilization Theory (Jenkins, J. C. .
Resource Mobilization Theory and the Study of Social Movements. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 9, pp. 527-553) 2. Framing Theory (Snow, D. A. & Benford, R. D. . Ideology, Frame Resonance, and Participant Mobilization. International Social Movement Research, Vo. 1, pp. 197-217) 3. Network Theory (McAdam, D. & Paulsen, R. [1993, November]. Specifying the Relationship between Social Ties and Activism. Americal Journal of Sociology, Vol. 99, No. 3, pp. 640-667) 4. Hegemony Theory of Gramsci 5. Political Opportunity Approach Background Conditions: 1. Economic and Political Crisis (real or perceived) and International Pressures that divide the elites (Political Opportunity Approach) 2. Lowering cost of mobilization due to urbanization, the growth of the mass media1 and technological advancement in communication (specially in the social media i.e. social networking sites) 3. Democratization in several countries and the possibility of spillover effect 3. History, Culture and Social Capital (e.g. networks of trust, education, vibrancy of associational life, presence, networks, and capacity for mobilization of civil society organizations especially political ones) Insights and Arguments: 1. The meaning of the term “militancy” has changed over the years. Conventionally, it is a term which refers to violent activities, armed struggles, and combative strategies of separatist groups, guerillas, and other political organizations aiming to assert territorial autonomy, topple down autocratic regimes, challenge the monopoly of force of the state, contest certain practices and policies of the state, among others. Through the years, people saw waves of democratization in different parts of the world, the most recent is the Arab Spring, as well as different social movement organizations (SMOs) that have lost their insurrectionary character in the process of their ascendancy to power, cooptation, mobilization burn-out, repression from the new regime, splits within the movement, depletion of sources etc. As Goodwin and Skocpol once noted, “the ballot box is the coffin of revolutionary movements.” 2 However, waves of democratization and regime transitions do not guarantee a peaceful world. Since domination is not total, following Foucault, and that there are nodes, areas, and institutions in the network of power relations that are relatively under invested by the state, there are groups that can mobilize people and networks of support by articulating sentiments, concienticizing, reinforcing and constructing contested identities and myths (i.e. based on religion, nationality, race, claims of superiority from the distant past etc.), myths and propagandas, and challenging the hegemony of the state through “civil” and “uncivil” means. It is however contestable whether their techniques are effective in mobilizing the people for support or in terrorizing them and in calling the attention of the government. With the contested but still hegemonic position of the state to define things, following Bourdieu, coupled with certain fragmentary effects of capitalistic-market relations, the mass and social media, and contemporary technology, the term “militancy” has now become an inclusive concept for activities and identities that claim something from the government, whether that “something” refers to rights, legitimacy, participation, control of resources etc., and such “activities” and “identities” refer to “mobilization,” “rally,” “activism/t,” and “protest/er.” The term “militancy” has now been used to refer to activities that openly engage the state, as used and perpetuated by the
Jenkins, 1983, p. 540 http://cdp.binghamton.edu/papers/revolution.pdf
mass media, often in their effort to sensationalize and add colors to the news, by parents and teachers who want to deter their children from joining those activities, and by the people themselves who are busy in managing their private affairs. With the culture of impunity, poverty and patrimonialism at the background, the hegemonic power relations therefore largely succeeded in manufacturing docile bodies. 2. Reading Payne‟s Uncivil Movements (2000) provides us with a working definition of uncivil movements, hence differentiating it with other social movements that are accustomed to using „civil‟ means of influencing the state. The term uncivil refers to the use of political violence by these movements to promote exclusionary objectives… Uncivil movements use violence, in other words, as a deliberate strategy to eliminate, intimidate, and silence political adversaries in other movements and within the government. Their violence therefore differs from the violence that might occur among “civil” movements attempting to defend themselves against aggression or that face violence as an unintended outcome of a “civil” political confrontation. Civil disobedience, for example constitutes a form of rule breaking that sometimes involves violence, but it is intended to expand citizenship, political rights, and freedoms. Violence, in fact, is often the only weapon civil society actors possess to expand democratic rights and freedoms in an exclusionary state.3 Primarily, his checklist included a threatened privileged group who relied on violence to gain influence on policy matters.4 He clarified that uncivil movements, just like other sectors of civil society (i.e. other social movements), engage in both conventional and extrainstitutional means (double militancy) in their efforts to protect and extend their privileges. Payne gave us a conceptual map on the entanglements of uncivil movements with other spheres of civil society, indicating that demarcation lines between them, sometimes, blur, especially when uncivil movements gain alliances with other movements in engaging the state. Uncivil movements often capitalize on fears generated by violent means (terroristic acts) to give impression to the public, often with the help of media exposure and state attention, that they exist, strong, and capable of influencing the public for greater recognition of their demands. However, they usually deny their direct association with violence in order to attract supporters, especially pragmatic ones who are likely to support their views but do not like violent means. Because of their weak institutions and their fear that those groups may overthrow nascent regimes, transitory democracies are prone to give concessions to the wants of uncivil movements. Consolidated democracies, on the other hand, are more prone to investigate violence actions and, when successful, contribute to the delegitimation of myths spun by uncivil movements. This difference between the two types of democracies need not be taken as absolute, as uncivil movements, depending on their capacities and networks, often find ways to frame politically the actions of the state in ways that would favor their purpose. Uncivil movements often exaggerate threats, framing them as national, urgent threat to gain support from the public without explicitly showing that these would later serve their biased interest. To attract members, uncivil movements apply process of political framing, cultural cueing from cultural repertoire of heroes and villains and fabricating legitimating myths. Legitimating myths are necessary for movement entrepreneurs to attract the support of pragmatic members while satisfying hard-core members (as the latter see myths as a codes).5
Payne, L. (2000). Uncivil Movements: The Armed Right Wing and Democracy in Latin America, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, p. 1 4 This is so because his focus is on rightist and ultra-conservative groups. 5 Copied verbatim from my memo in our Sociology of Civil Society class at UP in 2011.
3. With these thoughts in mind, I will attempt to answer the question: “Goodbye to militancy?” My answer depends on which militancy we are talking about. If “militancy” refers to “civil” activities aimed for inclusivity and claiming of rights and identities, I will categorically say No. In a world where poverty, discrimination, repression, distrust, impunity, corruption, and marginalization thrive, sentiments are available all year around, only to be mobilized by social movement groups at the “right time.” As Jenkins and others observed: “the grievances generated by such conflicts are sufficiently ubiquitous that the formation and mobilization of movements depend on changes in resources, group organization, and opportunities for collective action.”6 Resources include money, facilities, labor, legitimacy, means of communication, time, technical expertise, myths and legends, history, cultural reservoir, networks etc. In mobilizing people to join your cause, you also have to frame your issues into something that will “struck a chord in the popular imagination of the people.”7 To use Gramsci‟s language, you have to engage into counterhegemonic struggles against the state. These counterhegemonic ideas must resonate with the people by using “master frames” that can capture their imagination for liberation, emancipation and local history: framing efforts must make sense on the ground. Snow and Benford identified three core framing tasks: diagnostic framing, prognostic framing and motivational framing.8 These framing efforts should have empirical credibility, experiential commensurability and narrative fidelity.9 These framing tasks are complimented by mobilization efforts that build on networks of protesters and common people. McAdam and Paulsen concluded that “neither embeddedness nor strong ties to another volunteer are themselves predictive of high-risk activism. Instead it is a strong subjective identification with a particular identity, reinforced by organizational or individual ties, that is especially likely to encourage participation.”10 This is fairly compatible with what Snow and Benford called “frame alignment”: “the linkage of individual and SMO interpretive orientations, such that some set of individual interests, values, and belief and SMO activities, goals, and ideology are congruent and complementary.”11 These processes, however, are mostly successful if there are political openings, economic crises or international pressures happening at the macro level of things. 4. If militancy refers to the use of violence to assert something, I will say “relatively yes.” Militancy as a set of violent strategies to pressure the government might terrorize the people; it might be criticized severely by the people themselves who, under the sway of the government and hegemonic power relations, might have interpreted it as “terroristic.” In consequence, they may seek the protection of the state against the “terrorists.” This however depends on the extent on which social movement organizations are successful in counterhegemonic struggles against the state and hegemonic power relations, as what Gramsci would argue.12 Report prepared by: John N. Abletis Faculty, Department of Sociology Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Manila
Jenkins, 1983, p. 528 This I borrow from Reynaldo Ileto 8 Snow & Benford, 1988, pp. 199-204 9 Ibid, pp. 207-211 10 McAdam & Paulsen, 1993, p. 659 11 Snow & Benford, 1988, p. 198 12 See Antonio Gramsci, 1971, Prison Notebooks and Buttigieg, J. (1995, Autumn). Gramsci on Civil Society. Boundary, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 1-32