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Movements & Organizations Unraveling the relationship Srilatha Batliwala Scholar Associate, Building Feminist Movements and Organizations (BFEMO) Initiative, – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Movements%20

Movements Organizations Unraveling the
Srilatha Batliwala Scholar Associate, Building
Feminist Movements and Organizations (BFEMO)
Initiative, AWID (Association for Womens Rights
in Development)
What are organizations?
  • At its simplest, an organization can be defined
    as a group of people joining together
    intentionally and creating a structure to
    accomplish a common set of goals.
  • In business management language, organization is
    defined as A social unit of people,
    systematically structured and managed to meet a
    need or to pursue collective goals on a
    continuing basis. All organizations have a
    structure that determines relationships between
    functions and positions, and . delgates roles,
    responsibilities, and authority to carry out
    defined tasks. Organizations are open systems in
    that they affect and are affected by the
    environment beyond their boundaries.
  • (see http//

In the social movement context
  • Organizations have most of the above
    characteristics, but in addition, must be seen as
    sites from which movements are built, supported,
    serviced and governed and sometimes, destroyed!
  • They are also the structures in or through which
    movement leaders, activists, and members are
    organized, trained, capacitated, and protected to
    pursue the transformational work of their

So to sum up, social movement organizations are
  • Structures intentionally created by a group of
    people to accomplish particular social change
  • Sites from which movements are built, supported,
    serviced and governed they are essential
    infrastructure for movements
  • Spaces in which movement leaders and activists
    are located, trained, capacitated, and protected
    while they perform the transformational work of

Some critical facts about organizations
  • Organizations are NOT rational entities, that are
    invariably logical, equitable and efficient
  • They are microcosms of the social / power
    relations contexts in which they are created
  • Consequently, they reflect and reproduce the
    power relations (inequalities, discrimination,
    hierarchies) of the societies in which they are
  • So gender-biased and socially-unequal societies
    produce inequitable organizations, though these
    imbalances are often hidden, in what is called
    the deep structure (the invisible structure of
    the organization )
  • But organizations are also sites from which power
    relations are challenged, internally an
    externally they are also the only way we know to
    organize our

Assumptions about power in feminist
  • Because were all women, we dont have to worry
    about power in our organization (yes we do)
  • We dont have any hierarchy (because you have a
    hidden / invisible one)
  • We are all equal here (no, were not there are
    always hierarchies of age, ability, experience,
    class, education, sexual orientation, etc. etc.)
  • Formalizing decision-making power and systems is
    patriarchal and bureaucratic (no, its often more
    democratic, accountable and transparent)
  • I dont have to be accountable to you because I
    am accountable to the movement (Which one?
    Where? How?)
  • If you are a feminist organization, you should
    allow me to get away with murder (come to work at
    any time I please, not meet deadlines, spend all
    my time on facebook or twitter, mope instead of
    work because my personal life is a mess, etc.

What are Organizational Deep Structures?
  • Invisible / informal decision-making processes
    that influence / lead to formal organizational
    decisions (think of an example)
  • Informal groupings, cliques, that become sites
    of influence or hold/exercise informal power
    (think of an example)
  • How different work and roles are valued and
  • The hidden vs formal work culture working late
    hours, weekends, etc.
  • Sites of building / damaging peoples
    credibility, reputation, etc. (gossip, smear
    campaigns, etc.)
  • More positively, sites where conflict / tension
    gets mediated or resolved informally

Organizational Deep Structures
Work culture / informal norms
Informal power / influence groups
Cultural distance walked from personal/informal
biases to formal organizational norms
Valued work / behaviour
Informal / invisible decision-making processes
Positive influences / personalities
Relationship of organizations to movements
  • Organizations are not Movements, but movements
    are built, supported, managed, and sometimes
    destroyed, by organizations
  • Movements contain two types of organizations
  • Formal organizations (legally constituted)
  • Informal organizations not legally constituted,
    but often equally powerful, and can be highly
    sophisticated and organized!

  • Formal Organizations
  • Informal Organizations
  • legal entities regulated by laws and financial
  • Can be external to movements, or created by them,
    and may be focused on
  • Building movements movement-building
  • Serving movements movement-serving
  • Not legally constituted - Networks, womens
    collectives, savings/credit / self-help groups,
  • Usually an organizing structure within movements
  • May exist alongside formal structures such as
    federations, unions, etc.
  • Informal doesnt mean simple, disorganized, less
    effective, or inferior to formal organizations!

Roles organizations play in movements
  • Services to movement members (education, child
    care, health care, etc.)
  • Strategic Support ideas, political and policy
    analysis, strategic advice, convening spaces
  • Capacity-building leadership development,
    need-based training, organizational development,
    advocacy skills
  • Advocacy

Key types of movement-organization relationships
  • Movement created organizations i.e.,
    organizations set up by movements to promote
    visibility, democratic representation, voice, and
    decision-making, manage services, and to
    negotiate movement members interests and
    priorities with other actors
  • Movement-building or supporting organizations,
    which stand in relationship to the movement, may
    even be taking or giving direction to it, but not
    created by it

Key types of movement-organization relationships
  1. Organizations joining together to form movements
    - with greater or lesser levels of grassroots /
    constituency base.
  2.  Organizational allies of movements including
    political parties, academic / research groups,
    feminist organizations of various kinds, other
    NGOs, and even UN agencies or donors

Movement-Organization Relationship Dynamics
  • Can be of the following types
  • Equilateral / circular / symbiotic (existing for
    each other)
  • Paternalistic / instrumentalist / clientelist
    (using, leveraging, exploiting)
  • Short-term, issue or goal-specific
  • Long-term, agenda-related
  • Can fall anywhere on a continuum of formal to
  • Is based on the strength of the glue that binds
    the relationship (loose coalitions, tighter
    networks, tightly bound alliances, etc.)
  • Is often also based on the financial relationship
    between the two!

Movements organizations a relational view
Service providing NGO (health, micro-credit,
child care, etc.)
Grassroots womens movement
Grassroots womens federation (registered)
grassroots womens informal collectives
movement-building NGO
Intl grassroots womens federation (informal
National womens federation (registered)
A real case GROOTS
Formal International network organization
GROOTS International
Movement-building supporting NGOS
COMITE Honduras
SSP India
MINE Europe
KDVE Turkey
Grassroots Womens Groups
Community Mothers Centers
  • Pick an organization (it could be your own, or
    one you know well)
  • Map / Analyze the organizations relationships
    to a movement or movements
  • Which category does it fall into in terms of its
    relationship to movement building?
  • How would you advise that organization to
    strengthen its role in movement building?