Social movements are broad-based combinations of groups and individuals acting purposefully, collectively and with continuity to promote change. Social movements tend to emerge from discontent resulting from inequality, inequity and injustice. NDI has provided support to an array of social movements over the years, recognizing their transformative potential. The spike in social movements since the second half of the 2000s has become an international phenomenon seen in every region and every type of political context. These movements have not only arisen in authoritarian regimes, but in semi authoritarian states and democracies as well.
Some recent social movements include the Arab Spring, the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong and Black Lives Matter in the United States. This rise can be attributed to factors including new information and communication technologies, particularly the widespread use of social media, which allows citizens to easily and independently distribute content and to reach followers at unprecedented speed. This has coincided with a prevalence of troubled democratic transitions and concern over state corruption, leading citizens to protest power holders who act with impunity, abuse citizens’ rights and misuse or centralize state power. Politics professor John Keane calls this a new form of “monitory democracy” in which citizens’ major participatory function is continuous evaluative oversight of state action.CIVICUS predicts that this phenomenon is likely to continue, and that we are experiencing a “second wave” of civic energy after an earlier concentration from 2010-2012.