T.V. Reed describes social movements as “the unauthorized, unofficial, anti-institutional, collective action of ordinary citizens trying to change their world.” I think that something like this is always going to be subjective, but this definition fits pretty well. Movements could be considered a culture of their own. They create a reason for a demographic of people to connect, and come together for a shared goal or desire. It creates a space for people to create change they want to see, or offer up alternatives to situations they see as in need of change. Charles Tilly claims social movements require “repeated public displays.” This isn’t for the casual activist, it requires drive and dedication, done by the many; not the famous. Social movements have often pushed for “a conception of ‘direct’ democracy, and the institutions and actors of representative democracy have long structured movements’ political opportunities and constraints within the boundaries of institutional politics.”
There are three ways social movements have become internationalized; diffusion, domestication, and externalization. First off, diffusion is “spread of movement ideas, practices, and frames from one country to another.” Domestication is defined as “playing out on domestic territory of conflicts that have their origin externally.” Lastly, externalization is the considered as “the challenge to supranational institutions to intervene in domestic problems or conflicts.” To summarize by Porta and Tarrow, “these three forms of transnational relations represent an important part of what some scholars have been calling ‘global social movements’ and what others, more modestly call ‘transnational politics.’ They are extremely important, and may be increasing in scope and scale, but they do not represent the most dramatic change we see in the world of contentious politics.”
Transnational Collective Action is “movements focusing on ‘global justice’ and peace/war suggest a kind of ‘transnational collective action,’ which is ‘coordinated international campaigns on the part of networks of activist against international actors, other states, or international institutions.” Communication takes a huge role in these concepts, and access is something that separates those who are in from those who are out. Some emerging challenges to TCA would be “fragmentation in social structure has increased social heterogeneity, decline of social groups that had formed bases for previous movements. Increasingly individualized culture has reduced bases for solidarity values in society.” Transnational collective action is “the term we use to indicate coordinated international campaigns on the part of networks of activists against international actors, other states, or international institutions” (Porta and Tarrow, pg. 7).
Porta and Tarrow mention a case of TCA on page 7, while explaining the concept. They go on to explain, “we can vividly illustrate this development of new forms from old with the example of anthropologist Hilary Cunningham, who has studied activism on the U.S./Mexican border for over ten years. She began in the early 1990’s by studying the ‘border crossing’ of a group of activists linked to the U.S. Sanctuary movement, who offered safe havens to Central American refugees. She compares this experience to more recent activism to reduce the negative effects of the NAFTA agreement (201:372-79). They go on to explain, “between these two episodes, both occurring on the same border and involving the same populations, Cunningham observed a shift from a state-centric movement to a transnational coalition (379-83). In fact, as the movement developed, the role of the state was transformed for its activists. This transformation developed out of environmental, cognitive, and relational changes.” Porta and Tarrow claim that this kind of transformation resulted out of environmental, cognitive, and relational changes, and they use these categories to examine the forces behind the development of transnational collective action.