Transformational social movement

From Le Hub/The Climate Justice Organizing HUB
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Climate justice as we see it is meant to be a transformational social movement .

The ideas that follow are inspired by the writings of Gene Sharp and their interpretation of Paul and Mark Engler's work.

A social movement (or group) doing transformational political work targets the root of systems of oppression by attacking their structure. To effect the desired change, transformational movements adopt an understanding of power as a social phenomenon.

A transformational social movement has symbolic demands. These are demands which are broad and intended to highlight the importance and urgency of the desired changes. Not seeking to be achievable, we know that by inscribing our cause in the collective imagination, we will obtain much greater gains than by having instrumental demands (which are demands that are specific and possible in the immediate political landscape). As our symbolic message is heard, concrete, instrumental gains will occur. An example of a symbolic demand is abolishing the police, and an example of an instrumental gain is getting police out of schools, or a % reduction in the police budget in a specific municipality. 

Through its actions, the transformational social movement seeks to gain more active support. In this way, we can succeed in tilting the public debate in our favour, allowing for profound societal changes.

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to

Creative commons.png
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Back to Homepage