Sociology Index

Political Activism

Pippa Norris defines ‘political activism’ as ‘the ways that citizens participate, the processes that lead them to do so, and the consequences of these acts’. Norris’s curation of a number of political acts under the banner of ‘political activism’ signals in itself, a notable semantic shift in terminology. Pippa Norris (2009 Norris, P. (2009). Political activism: New challenges, new opportunities. People's personal and social relationships to time has rarely been a topic of inquiry in the study of political activism. Bringing questions of people’s personal and social relationships to time into conversation with political activism challenges commonly held beliefs and practices about political participation.

In the present times, college campuses, temples, churches, mosques voting booths, and public squares are all familiar sites of political activism. A focus on people’s various relationships to time, and its experience and passage provides insights into the vicissitudes of life and political activism alike. Values-based approaches to political activism resonate with relational approaches to understanding people. Values-based approaches provide a more inclusive concept of citizenship as an ethical relationship between a fluid self and a networked society.

Political Activism Books

Political Activists in America: The Identity Construction Model of Political Participation - Nathan Teske - The book argues against approaches that see politics as an inherently costly or unpleasant activity. In contrast, the identity construction approach sees political activism as enabling activists to become people whom they would otherwise have been unable to become. Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism - Pippa Norris - Citizens in many countries have become disengaged from traditional political participation. This book suggests reasons for questioning assumptions of decline. Not only is the obituary for older forms of political activism premature, but new forms of modern civic engagement may be emerging.

Anti-Communist Minorities in the U.S.: Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees - Ieva Zake - This book will provide a very useful addition to the literature on American anti-communism. It deals with groups and issues that have been neglected in the study of American immigration history and politics. And, it offers an opportunity to develop some comparative themes and analyses of the dynamics within different ethnic groups facing similar issues." - Harvey Klehr, Professor of Political Science, Emory University.

Soundbitten: The Perils of Media-Centered Political Activism - Sarah Sobieraj - There is an elaborate and often invisible carnival that emerges alongside presidential campaigns as innumerable activist groups attempt to press their issues into mainstream political discourse. Soundbitten reveals why media-centered activism so often fails, what activist groups lose in the process, and why we should all be concerned. Soundbitten illuminates the relationship between news and activist organizations.

Citizen Democracy: Political Activism in a Cynical Age (People, Passions, and Power: Social Movements, Interest Organizations) - Stephen E. Frantzich - Citizen Democracy shows ordinary people engaged in extraordinary civic activity. Two young women independently wrote letters of application to the U.S. Naval Academy and in the process moved military education in the direction of gender neutrality.