Main Arguments in the Readings
Herbert Kitschelt explores the patterns in the intermediation in the political interest in the democracies of the early 21st century. The author pointed out that the development of the world’s democracies and the diversification of the state societies eventually resulted in the fragmentation in the domestic political arenas and the appearance of multiple left-wing and right-wing new political parties (Kitschelt 81). In turn, Goldstone argues that in the contemporary politics, social movements represent an essential element and are not to be viewed as the actions of marginalized groups and communities but as the drivers of various political forces and phenomena (2). Hanagan elaborated on the topic raised by Goldstone by exploring the patterns of interactions between the left social movements and political parties. The author identified three major types of interactions – disengagement, consolidation, and disengagement of social movements from the political parties (Hanagan 3). In that way, the interactions between the parties and the social movements can be characterized as developing according to a cyclical manner.
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To demonstrate the interaction of the democracies with the social movements, Kitschelt used the example of electoral democracy that is open to changes and challenges; the author pointed out that under this political situation, the social movements would rather attempt to achieve their results relying on the democratic and electoral methods instead of revolutions and protests (86).
Goldstone contributed to this discussion by finding the examples of institutionalized social movements in the Western societies. For example, the authors specified that in the 19th and 20th centuries the leaders or participants of various social movements used to be the members of the official political parties as well (Goldstone 3). In particular, the author mentioned the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Italian peace movement that had a powerful support from the political parties (Goldstone 4).
Supporting his perspective of the patterns in the interactions between the policies parties and social movements, Hanagan divides the recent history into three major periods – 1870 to 1914, 1919 to 1960, and 1960 to present; these three periods demonstrate the three phases mentioned by the author – disengagement, consolidation, disengagement (3). Accordingly, the author specified that the first period was characterized by multiple political movements that existed as the criticizers of the political decisions, the second period could be viewed as the engagement of the social movements and their becoming political parties, and finally, the present days demonstrate the emergence of social movements independent from politics (Hanagan 4).
Relationship of the Readings to Our Understanding of Social Movements
The reviewed readings accomplish an important function of making connections between the political situations in the states and the behavior of the social movements. The three authors find different patterns but overall establish the general relationship between the electoral democracies and their openness to reforms and changes and the engagement of the social movements as parts of political parties, as forces supported by them, or as groups working independently from them attempting to achieve something that the political leaders overlook.
Goldstone, Jack A. States, Parties, and Political Movements. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.
Hanagan, Michael. “Social Movements.” From Contention to Democracy. Marco G. Guigni, Doug McAdam, and Charles Tilly. New York, New York: Roman & Littlefield, 1998. Print.
Kitschelt, Herbert. “Landscapes of Political Interest Intermediation.” Social Movements and Democracy. Ed. Pedro Ibarra. New York, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003. Print.