Surviving the ups and downs of social movements

Can theories of movement cycles equip activists to persevere over the long haul?

‘Wide-scale uprisings can make a major impact on public consciousness, but they can never be sustained for long. The fact that they fade from view does not mean they lack value — the civil rights movement, for one, scored many of its biggest wins as a result of mass mobilization and the innovative use of nonviolent direct action. But it does present a challenge: Without an understanding of movement cycles, it is difficult to combat despondency.

So how, then, do we know when movements have died — and when are they primed to revive? And how do activists translate periods of peak activity into substantive and enduring social change?’

An interesting take on how activists could deal with the fluctuating cycles of popular movements. It presents the eight-stage model from Bill Moyer, trainer and strategist who experienced first hand some of the landmark movement cycles of the 1960s and ’70s. Dealing with questions of how movements can overcome despair and marginality to change society, the model provides interesting perspectives on how to deal with dedicating your life to changing society without becoming hopeless.

Read the article here.