Old movements
Labour movements
Agrarian movements
National movements
Civil rights movements
Women’s movements
Peace movements
Environmental movements
Movements for the commons
Total movements
Peoples’ movement theory


Popular movement traditions





In everyday speech, we usually talk about labour movements, civil rights movements, etc. – much as we have linked from the left column of this page. Such divisions can be useful if we are only aware that it is a pedagogical lie that indicates what different movements focus on in their work. In reality, of course, there are no such clear boundaries. A couple of examples that tend to confuse Westerners are that the Indian tree-hugging movement itself considered itself a peace movement and that the strongest women’s movement in the Indian state of Maharashtra is the female half of the peasant movement.

However, long-term work with a certain focus tends to influence a movement’s self-perception and create more or less strong identities. To work collectively, you need a collective identity, a ”we”. This ”we” is shaped by struggle experiences and ideology formation, and the longer you hold on, the more different traditions emerge in the popular movement world that can sometimes be difficult to communicate and cooperate. Especially in times of routine – successful mobilizations can usually sweep away such traditions and establish new ones.

Here we thus provide ten gateways to various popular movements. But do not be surprised if you find the same material in several places.

Otherwise, it is in many ways more reasonable to talk about one popular movement tradition. For different mobilizations and identities share in no small part the same political fields – they concern the same people, they have the same enemies, they achieve common results, they often have similar language. The strength of a popular movement mobilization is the strength of another, not least because it weakens both’s counterpart and makes it easier for each to succeed. The strong popular movement culture and hegemony in the Nordic countries in the 1910s-1970s was a matter for all popular movements at the time, and the strength of one could be used by another. And, conversely, the defeat of the environmental movement in the 1980 referendum on nuclear power weakened the labor movement which shortly afterwards lost a major conflict, despite the fact that the labor movement had just before supported the winning side in the referendum (or precisely for that reason...).

Carriers of democracy, the only extensive book about popular movements that exists, downloadable as pdf.




If you miss some remarkable mobilization among these stories, we are happy to include it. Please contact us through the email address below.


Published by Folkrörelsestudiegruppen: info@folkrorelser.org