Internal social movement are “forms of collective action that emerge in response to situations of inequality, oppression, and unmet social, political, economic or cultural demands…comprised of an organized set of constituents pursuing a common agenda of change over time”. (Batliwala 2012:3) Similarly transnational collective action references the “coordinated international campaigns on the part of networks of activists against international actors, other states, or international institutions”. (Porta & Tarrow, 2014) Internal social movements are of much smaller scale in servicing response to inequality, oppression, and unmet social needs while transnational collective action has a much larger international scale of servicing the same issues. Transnational collective action is the response to the culmination of several coordinated internal social movements in need of international backing and support; shifting state-centered movements to a transnational coalition.
The three ways in which social movements have become globalized include: diffusion, domestication/internalization, and externalization.
Diffusion is the spread of movements, ideas, practices, and frames from one country to another. Increased exposure to eclectic views on social, political, religious, intellectual, technological, and economic theologies have had significant impact on countries, cultures, and people worldwide. Diffusion has been recognized as a popular tool of force through global history. States attempting to reform or eradicate another culture’s values and practices have been a common practice throughout history. Consider the ways in which cultural diffusion has been forced upon Native Americans every since European’s arrived to the Americas. Through manipulation and force, the Native American was forced into adopting European practices of religion, language, and culture. Positive examples of cultural diffusion include spread of democracy, improved healthcare practice (like vaccines and safe sex practices), education reform, and human rights. Technology like smart phones and the internet have also had significant impact of global cultural diffusion. This has contributed to the ease in which particular practices or frames can be shared and transferred from country to country. However the ease in which information can be shared creates a classic barrier between the “have and have nots”. Consider how international travel, knowledge of common languages, and access to the internet have a positive impact on global trade and business. “Every new form of communication both heightens ties between those who already know one another, and raises the walls of exclusion for those lacking access to the new medium of communication (Tilly, 2004)”.
Domestication is the playing out on domestic territory of conflicts that have their origin externally, and often comes in response to cultural diffusion ramifications. Research supports that these protests of these conflicts target international institutions directly at a relatively small rate and more some have an impact on the nation state. Protest events analysis stat that “protest often address national governments regarding decisions that originated or were implemented at a supranational level”. Lack of international accountability and responsiveness as well as the power of the nation states have contributed to the lack of protest at the supranational level.
Externalization represents the challenge to supranational institutions to intervene in domestic problems or conflict. The strategy of externalization is often characterized the mobilization of national groups targeting supranational institutions like the ICC, EU and UN, in attempt to put pressure on their own nation state government for resources. An example of this type of externalization was when Colombian NGO’s pressured the ICC to utilize the “over the shoulder” effect to ramp up Colombian government response and accountability for the crimes against humanity being committed in Colombia over the past 5 decades. Resources provided from international organizations can include both material and symbolic resources and are not without limitations.
Transactional collective action is a construct without criticism. Nation state’s often fail to recognize NGO’s and their critical resources, minimizing the voice of the more than 4,000 worldwide NGO’s. According to Porta and Tarrow, the transactional collective process requires “cognitive and relational change” before social movements can make sustainable progress. This creates an issue for the more loosely structured organizations with the inability to meet these processes categorizing them under the definition of “opposition against neoliberal globalization”.
A well known example of transitional collective action would be the NGO Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization that aims to provide high-quality medical care to the people who need it the most. DWB provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in more than 60 countries around the world. DWB assists overwhelmed local health systems in times of crisis such armed conflicts, epidemics, malnutrition, and natural disasters. They also assist people who face discrimination and neglect from local health systems that are excluded or underserviced. Doctors Without Border’s commitment to providing quality healthcare to the worldwide underserviced, at risk, and crisis population without promoting the agenda of any country, political party, or religious affiliate make it an example of transitional collective action versus a national social movement.
Batliwala. 2012: 3 —http://socialmovements.bridge.ids.ac.uk/sites/socialmovements.bridge.ids.ac.uk/files/07.%202.%20Social%20Movements.pdf
Porta, D. D., & Tarrow, S. G. (2005). Transnational protest and global activism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.