Activism industry

The activism industry is composed of organizations and individuals who make a living from activism, involvement in action to bring about change. The number of organizations who employ people to perform this work is sufficiently large that Activism is now a job classification. While "activism" is commonly used to describe left-wing movements for social change, many other movements can be described as activist in nature.

Many organizations whose primary activity is activism are defined as being nonprofit organizations. Some are non-governmental organizations. Most activist organisations do no manufacturing of goods.

The specific activist tactic of persuading politicians to create laws is called lobbying. Many groups have staff assigned to do lobbying. A U.S. organization which is officially created only to do lobbying is called a political action committee.

Fields in the activism industry include:


Activism in capitalist societies

In capitalist societies, when civil liberties are present, full-time activists are employed on wages. Volunteer activists usually support themselves by working full-time or part-time. In some areas of activism and some societies volunteer activists' investment of time may result in tax benefits, this is particularly true for religious charities. Governments are often able to influence which activist causes are supported, by declaring some political causes to be charitable or religious, and denying the same benefits to other causes. In particular, the labour movement is usually highly regulated by governments in capitalist societies, due to the perception that a successful labour movement would threaten the future of capitalism.

Forced Activism

In all contemporary societies it is often the case that governments, corporations and other social institutions often organise activism in the interests of the ruling group. However, where civil liberties exist, the penalty for failing to comply with forced activism is often merely unemployment rather than imprisonment for political crimes as is often the case in contemporary societies lacking in civil liberties. A number of techniques are commonly used:

  • Paid or obligatory attendance on work time at rallies. Often the size of the crowd is claimed to indicate support of policies. This technique was recently used by the Tasmanian logging industry in the 2004 Australian Federal election.
  • Promotion or continued employment being dependent upon voluntary attendance on holidays at certain functions or rallies.
  • Compulsory unpaid overtime for the benefit of particular political causes or charities.
  • Requests by government officials or corporate managers that a body of people support a public letter of support for a particular cause.
  • Requirements for students to undertake politically motivated employment during semester breaks.
  • Calling public meetings with the sole purpose of criticising an individual at the meeting who is believed to hold unacceptable views. This technique of criticism / self-criticism at mass meetings was commonly used in the People's Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution.
  • Compulsory or heavily suggested financial or time contributions to causes or organizations. Peace loans in the Warsaw Pact countries in the 1950s operated on this basis. Similarly, some workplace charity drives in the West approach this level of compulsion.

Restrictions by governments can create what are state-controlled activism industries (just as some states control other industries), grant monopolies to organizations, or divert government resources to influence change.

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