Around the world people’s organizations and movements are demanding that governments become more transparent and accountable to citizens. Popular mobilizations and social movements have been an important feature of social and political life throughout modern history, but how do they fit into a broader ‘accountability ecosystem’ of formal and informal actors and mechanisms? And just what do we mean by social movements anyway?
In a three-part series of Think Pieces, we seek to bring some new clarity and insights to thinking about the role of citizen movements in the transparency and accountability space. The first think piece argued that there needs to be further attention paid to the role of popular organizations and movements, and to supporting their efforts around the globe. In this second piece, Mary Joyce and Tom Walker, at the engine room, unpack ‘social movements’, discussing characteristics, tactics, organization and drawing some contrasts with more formal NGOs. The nature of social movements allows them significant flexibility, but can make it difficult for external actors to support them through traditional mechanisms. The final think piece in this series will suggest more productive avenues for aiding and strengthening movements.