Inclusion, Solidarity, and Social Movements: The Global Movement Against Gender Violence


Weldon, S. Laurel. 2006. “Inclusion, Solidarity, and Social Movements: The Global Movement Against Gender Violence.” Perspectives on Politics 4 (1): 55–74.

Author: S. Laurel Weldon


How do transnational social movements overcome divisions to build the trust and solidarity necessary for effective cooperation?

I examine this question in the context of the global movement against gender violence. Although this movement was initially severely hobbled by internal division, over two decades activists have united, successfully cooperating to push for a number of international agreements. I argue that the movement against gender violence has achieved cooperation through the development of norms of inclusivity. Such norms include a commitment to descriptive representation, the facilitation of separate organizations for disadvantaged social groups, and a commitment to building consensus with institutionalized dissent. Existing scholarship on social movements accounts for the emergence of cooperation in social movements as a product of shared interests, identities or opportunities. But these accounts are incomplete because they do not confront the problem of relations of domination among activists. In contexts where some social groups dominate others, additional challenges for mobilization are present. I suggest that attending to the context of structural inequality in which social movements operate improves our understanding of social mobilization and illuminates overlooked paths to cooperation. I conclude by suggesting some concrete steps for overcoming divisions and building cooperation in the context of social relations of domination. Given the importance of achieving cooperation in the context of deep social cleavages, scholars should seek to understand and define every possible mechanism for developing such cooperation.

Topics: Gender, Gender-Based Violence

Year: 2006

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