Critical Issues in Campaigning is as critical as it sounds. It started with the efforts to get to the definitions of the terms ‘Campaigning’ and ‘Social change’. It sounds and feels easy or simple for that matter, unless you sit down to write and think of it. The closer you think you are getting to the right thing, the confusing it gets. It’s not about getting to the exact thing, as it varies from situations to perception to campaigns.
All these terms, Social Change, Civil Society, Social Movement, Advocacy Networks, Campaigning, NGO’s, Pressure Group, and Charity etc are subjective. Universal definitions are generally not possible as some groups might agree on it, but there will be disagreements among other groups.
For example if we take at ‘Social Change’, A shift in attitudes, behaviors or processes that improves equality, freedom, quality of life or sustainability. Change in terms of social, i.e. Society is the basic crux of it, for betterment and which improves equality, freedom, quality of life and sustainability; is the human, emotional, hopeful context of it. As we think of changing always for betterment, for something good. So this need not necessarily be a objective definition, but largely accepted as everyone wants good.
A more dispassionate one would be, ‘A measurable difference in the society’, but this would seem as dry as it is and would not cover the various aspects of social change.
The two accepted definitions for campaigning are,
- “Series of communicative activities undertaken to achieve predefined goals and objectives regarding a defined target audience in a set time period with a given amount of resources” (Baringhorst et al. 2009: 24)
- “Campaigning is an activity that aims to create change. It brings energy and passion to public debates and ensures that a wider range of voices are heard – including the voices of the disadvantaged.” (NCVO 2014)
The first one is a Professional definition, a result oriented package. That’s it. For better or for worse, for improving something, someone’s image or destroying it and it doesn’t matter. Whatever the aim is, it’s a definition to fulfill the aim.
The second one is more social in sense; it speaks out the activism in it. Passion in public debates, voices of the disadvantaged, that’s the social, betterment, change angel in the definition.
So these are again two completely different aspects of the same term.
I would like to analyze “Anonymous” with this.
With the first definition Anonymous would be no where, as it defies every word of it.
Series of communicative activities, there are no series of activities, but a bizarre, general protest.
undertaken to achieve predefined goals and objectives, There are no predefined goals nor objectives. The basic aim being to generate awareness, asking people to stand up for what they feel is wrong. It is in a way for a larger cause of Fairness, Freedom, and Justice. As these are not merely words but perspectives.
a defined target audience in a set time period with a given amount of resources, for Anonymous, target also is not defined. It may be governments, police, corporations; MNC’s or even church for that matter and also for something, like for freedom of press, internet, for privacy or against suppression, exploitation. Time period is also not defined as it is not a centrally organized movement, not with a specific or short term, or hard and fast result oriented one. Resources being people, volunteers, who want to get out on the road and protest against something what they feel wrong.
If we take in perspective the second definition,
It almost fits in it. As it is an activity to create change. It also brings passion to public debates, Anonymous has done it by leaking secret government files, videos, showing widespread exploitation. And a wide range of voices are heard. Here the spectrum is as broad as it can get. Anyone can come out and protest against any wrong, any injustice he/she feels. Someone exploited, suffering from injustice is disadvantaged, and so their voices get a platform in a way via this.
You cannot stop someone, something you do not know. I guess that’s the basic strategy behind it.
How much effective and what it will achieve its question for time. But it sure is interesting and generated my curiosity in it.