In this guide, you will learn what a movement of movements is. We explain how to strengthen connections between movements. We discuss how to bring together activist across countries, causes and strategies.
Also make sure to read our guides on coalition-building and partnerships (guide not yet created). If you are interested in the practicalities of starting collaborations with other movements, we recommend you to check out those guides.
This guide on movement of movements will allow you to take a more birds-eye view and understand how various movements relate to each other.
What is a movement of movements?
In short, a 'movement of movements' is a collective of multiple social movements. These movements can focus on different causes, use different strategies and operate in different (geographical) contexts.
A movement of movements can be institutionalised to varying degrees:
Some may have coalition structures where representatives of various movements get together on a regular basis.
Others may not have one central place for people to get together, but have one-on-one partnerships between movements and organisations instead.
Yet others do not have any formal structures, but collaboration and solidarity happens on the level of individual activists.
Rather than thinking of a movement of movements as a single actor or institution, think of it as an organic network of collaborations that are happening on various levels.
You cannot 'start' a movement of movements. There are always already some connections between various movements, in whatever shape or size. This guide explains how to strengthen those connections.
We chose to use the term 'movements of movements' because it is more commonly known and looked up on search engines. In addition, the term 'ecology of social movements' is easily confused with 'the ecology movement'.
Defining social movements
But what is a social movement? Some people say that grassroots organisations such as Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for Future can be seen as examples of social movements. Others think that those are not social movements, but merely actors within a broader social movement: the climate justice movement. Check out our guide about how to start a movement for more information.
A movement of movements includes actors that focus on different causes. For example, a climate justice movement such as Extinction Rebellion and a anti-racism movement such as Black Lives Matter may both be part of one movement of movements.
A movement of movements is not a single organisation or a fixed ideology. Instead, it is a dynamic network of solidarity and collaboration among different groups and individuals. They seek to challenge the same dominant systems of oppression and exploitation. A movement of movements recognises the interconnection of various struggles. Check out our guide on intersectionality in activism for a more in-depth discussion.
A movement of movements can include actors from varying geographical and cultural contexts. This brings its own set of unique challenges. However, many of the injustices that we try to fight as activist have international roots, so it is necessary to operate on an international level (as well as on a local level). International solidarity, knowledge-exchange and collaborative actions strengthen a movement of movements as a whole.
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Diversity of strategies
A movement of movements usually includes actors with differing strategies and tactics. For example, some may use civil disobedience, others may try to bring about change within existing political institutions. Some may focus on imagining different futures by building it (introducing local currencies or building community centres), others may focus on disrupting and disassembling current systems of oppression (occupying a coal mine).
This diversity in strategy and tactics can make it challenging to work together. However, it is also a big strength. There are many ways to bring about change. Successful movement of movements combine the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies to challenge all pillars of power and imagine new futures.
Coalition-building and partnerships
Movements of movements are all about collaboration between various (grassroots) organisations and other actors. These collaborations can take various forms. Two examples are coalitions and partnerships:
Coalitions: A collective of various actors, usually with differing strategies and/or visions.
Partnerships: Collaboration between two or more organisations, usually a smaller number of actors than are involved in coalitions.
Both coalitions and partnerships range from very formalised structures to more informal connections, though in both cases there usually is some form of structure.
Providing examples of movements of movements is difficult. While they exist everywhere, they are not necessarily named or documented as such. Below we have provided two case examples:
Initiative by Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion in the Netherlands also hosted an online training about their idea of building a movement of movements (in Dutch):
Social Solidarity Economy
Read more about the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE).
This section has not been written yet.
How to strengthen a movement of movements?
This section has not been written yet.
Movement of movements
PDF: Movement of movements primer by Saïd Business School (2020)
Book: The movements of movements. Part 1, What makes us move? edited by Jai Sen
Book: A Movement of Movements: Is Another World Really Possible? edited by Tom Mertes
Book: The Movement of Movements: A Last Chance to Save the Planet? by Christian Sarkar, Karthiga Ratnam and Philip Kotler
Academic: Appreciating the Movement of the Movements by Helen Hintjens (2006)
Roadmap: A Movement of Movements by Michael Nagler (2014)
Social movement ecology
Social Movement Ecology and Its Implications: Unpacking the Natural Metaphor by Benjamin Case (2018)
Social movement ecology and its implications: unpacking the natural metaphor by Benjamin S. Case (2017)