I have been extremely interested in the process behind movements since studying Dada in my sophomore year Art History class; however, recent events have caused me to consider this idea in even more depth.
There's a lot of movements that can be considered in the modern era- #BlackLivesMatter is one that easily comes to mind. But what is more interesting to me is not how individual movements began and their subsequent effect on society (although this is extremely intriguing) but rather how the independent beliefs and thoughts of individuals came together in a strong and specific way in order to create larger action by a group of likewise minded people. It's harder than it sounds. While many might agree that #BlackLivesMatter, for example, individuals within this group may differ on their beliefs of what exactly to protest, what needs to be changed, and what their desired outcome may be. Nonetheless, all members agree on that strong and pithy foundation, namely, that Black lives matter.
This may seem rather obvious but I believe it is anything but. Differences tend to divide more strongly that similarities unite. Families are easily divided upon political grounds but it is only with significant effort that their common traditions may tie them together. I keep going back to a quote I remember reading in research for my Art History Class last year. In her book simply titled Dada, Leah Dickerman explores the idea that it was the global interaction of artists from different countries and from different cultures gathering together in small cities that ultimately lead to people holding more extreme positions than individuals might have accepted independently. This is actually a pretty radical idea; it means that the close physical proximity of individuals who have both similarities and differences leads individuals to adopt more similarities with their peers than differences. People working together for a extended period of time will become more radical in their opinions because they have the unadulterated support of those around them. We can imagine that it would be much harder for a movement to form if its leaders lived thousands of miles away from each other, but this suggests that it would not only be improbable but closer to impossible.
Maybe this all seems quite clear to you, but I'd like to point out one significant implication of this idea that made me wonder myself. Usually we think of diversity of opinion as a good thing- after all, it generally helps us to have checks and balances in the pursuit of knowledge. But the idea that similar individuals working together in close proximity are more likely to start a movement or lead a successful revolution may challenge this proposition. Indeed, one can point to the United Nations, where hundreds of leaders with completely different interests gather together to solve problems and usually get nothing done. If I'm honest, I'd admit that this idea brings up more questions than it does solve answers. At least, it means we need more thought to be done on the subject.
So what do you think? How do ideas turn into movements? How can we start revolution if need be? Let me know your thoughts.