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Blog

29Sep2018

WHAT IS ORIENTATION?

I use the concept of orientation in my book Other People’s Struggles.  It refers to the nature of the work that a social movement undertakes.  In (1) the outward orientation, external goals or interests are defined and pursued. But social movements also do other things besides pursue interests in the outside world beyond the movement.  I therefore propose three other orientations: (2) the expressive orientation, in which the work is the definition and expression of identities (experiences, needs and desires); (3) the empowerment orientation, in which the work is the production of empowered activists (persons with new or developed capabilities); and (4) the solidarity orientation, in which the work is the building a cohesive movement.

In each of these orientations, there is an important difference between the constituents, whose goal in participation is to secure something for themselves (or others of whom they are part) and the adherents, whose goal in participation is to secure something for others.

These differences are set out in the table below:

ORIENTATION  —»OUTWARDEXPRESSIVEEMPOWERMENTSOLIDARITY
WORK isthe definition and pursuit of interests.the expression of identities.the individual empowerment of activists.the building of solidarity between activists.
CONSTITUENTS seekthe definition and pursuit of their own interests. the expression of their own identities.their own empowerment. their own collective binding into a movement.
ADHERENTS seekthe definition and pursuit of the interests of others.the expression of others’ identities.the empowerment of others.the collective binding of others into a movement.

This is one of four posts on key concepts of Other People’s Struggles.  The other three deal with ambition, motivations and approaches.