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Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes. Research is beginning to explore how activist groups in the U.S. and Canada are using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.
Activists can function in roles as public officials, as in judicial activism. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. introduced the term "judicial activism" in a January 1947 Fortune magazine article titled "The Supreme Court: 1947."
Some activists try to persuade people to change their behavior directly, rather than to persuade governments to change or not to change laws. Other activist try to persuade people to remain the same, in an effort to counter change. The cooperative movement seeks to build new institutions which conform to cooperative principles, and generally does not lobby or protest politically, and clergymen often exhort their parishioners to follow a particular moral code or system.
As with those who engage other activities such as singing or running, the term may apply broadly to anyone who engages in it even briefly, or be more narrowly limited to those for whom it is a vocation, habit or characteristic practice. In the narrower sense environmental activists that align themselves with Earth First or Road Protestors would commonly be labelled activists, whilst a local community fighting to stop their park or green being sold off or built on would fit the broader application, due to their using similar means to similarly conservative ends. In short activism is not always an action by Activists.
For more than ten years, groups involved in various forms of activism have been using the Internet to advance organizational goals. It has been argued that the Internet helps to increase the speed, reach and effectiveness of activist-related communication as well as mobilization efforts, and as a result has had a positive impact on activism in general.
The activism industry consists of organizations and individuals engaged in activism. Activism is often done full-time, as part of an organization's core business. Many organizations in the activism industry are either non profit organizations or non-governmental organizations. Most activist organizations do not manufacture goods.
The term activism industry has often been used to refer to outsourced fundraising operations. However, activist organizations engage in other activities as well. Lobbying, or the influencing of decisions made by government, is another activist tactic. Many groups, including law firms, have designated staff assigned specifically for lobbying purposes. In the United States, lobbying is regulated by the federal government.
Many government systems encourage public support of non-profit organizations by granting various forms of tax relief for donations to charitable organizations. Governments may attempt to deny these benefits to activists by restricting the political activity of tax-exempt organizations.
|This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (February 2012)|