Social Networking and the Recruitment Process among Activists in Nepal (1)

By Karki, Mrigendra Bahadur | Contributions to Nepalese Studies, January 2006 | Go to article overview

Social Networking and the Recruitment Process among Activists in Nepal (1)


Karki, Mrigendra Bahadur, Contributions to Nepalese Studies


As a result of the signing of the 12- point agreement between the seven-party (parliamentary) alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist, (2) from the 6th to the 24th of April, 2006, for the first time in Nepal's history, millions of people marched on the streets of entire cities and most of the villages of the country. They crossed all state coercive measures, defied curfew, and cleared security barricades, all the while chanting 'Loktantra' (democracy). People from to all walks of life took part, at their own high risk. These demonstrations were not merely a coincidence or a form of spontaneous mobilization; they were a manifestation of undercurrent activism, contentious politics, collective action, and social movements. Over the last 200 years, Nepal has changed considerably (Gellner 1997a) and in recent decades the rate, intensity, and spectrum of change has been noteworthy. This may be compared to Tarrow's (2003) "movement society," concept, which he created for contemporary global contexts. In the same vein, in the 1960s, sociologist Daniel Bell proclaimed the "end of ideology" (Lloyd 2003); following his footsteps many social scientists predicted a stage of societal development where ideological conflict would gradually be translated into a more pluralistic, pragmatic consensus (McAdam, McCarthy, and Zald 1996). This seems to ring true for Nepal, where ethnic organizations, regional movements, civil societies, Dalit groups, and women movements, to name a few, are proliferating as new alternative intermediaries, somehow challenging/replacing political parties in mediating between people and the state. All these mobilizations are triggering social scientists to ask some serious questions: why have the collective actions, mass mobilizations (movements, revolution) come into being? Why do people join these mass mobilizations? What are the motivating and networking patterns of activists? What recruitment technologies and processes are being deployed by activists?

Social Political Upheaval 1990

Almost every day from the 1990s onwards, particularly post 1996, after the introduction of the Maoist insurgency, both printed and electronic media have been cultivating column and airing news on various levels, forms, types, and natures of collective actions, protests, activisms, movements, insurgencies, and counter insurgencies as well as their strategies and tactical repertoires. The promulgation of the new constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal in 1990 produced avenues for the mobilization of all sorts of activism in the country-- both individual and collective. From that time onwards, activism, movements, and collective actions became a perennial and routine part of Nepali life, especially in urban areas (nevertheless the Maoist insurgency has emerged from rural areas). Enormous public discourses were initiated and organizations materialized; activists, academics, and intellectuals began to engage in the expression and exchange of views in a way that had previously been banned. (3) As noted earlier, varied forms of activism took place as political groups, cultural nationalists, Dalit, women, Madheshi, etc., asserted their ethnic and territorial autonomy, the right to self determination, linguistic revitalization, and so on. Dalits, women, the disabled, and numerous social organizations and religious groups have since advocated their rights and identities as Weigert, Smith, and Teitge state, "social organization is the principle of self-organization, and both together explain social action" (1986: 5). Lesbian, gay, and sex worker movements started up. Many of these have or seek links with International NonGovernmental Organizations (INGOs). Activist organizations have a key role in the ongoing transformation of Nepali society. Since 1990 it is estimated that more than 30,000 Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) have been registered in Nepal, focusing particularly on development, awareness, advocacy, civic and human rights, the environment, children, women, peace, and so on (Gellner and Karki forthcoming). …

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