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Leadership and ideology in a social movement


Leaders are important for movement because they help clarify the issues and shape the movement. It is the leaders who provide guidance and direction to a movement. They prevent it from becoming an unruly collection of people. A movement can degenerate into a mob if it doesn’t have a leader or a group of leaders guiding it. The importance of leadership does not necessarily mean that it is all pervading that people have no independent role to play, and they are manipulated by the leaders. The leadership is expected to reflect the views of the people. The most important aspect of leadership is that it tries to articulate the views of the participants in the movement. Leadership acts as mouthpiece of the social movement and negotiates on behalf of large number of people. Leadership involves a two-way process where the leader tries to lead according to his understanding of the situation and the issues involved. On the other hand, the leader incorporates the views and ideas of the participants and articulates them in the process. A movement may lose its course if a leader only tries to impose his or her views without taking into account, the views of the participants in the movement or is guided by the demands of the members participating in the movement.

Leadership and ideology are two important factors that sustain and give direction to a social movement. People follow the leader because of what he represents, i.e. the ideas put forward for the cause. An ideology is important as it makes people understand and justify the implications of their actions. It provides a justification to the actions of people involved. Ideology provides a broad frame of action and collective mobilization in the social movement. Ideology indicates the goals, mean and forms of practical activities of social groups and individuals. It gives the justifications for various social, political and moral ideals. Ideology also establishes identity of the group.MSA Rao believes that ideology is one of three most crucial aspects of social movement, the other two being collective mobilization and orientation for change. Ideology is reflected in various themes of movement like rejection of religious identity, class. Conflict and religious themes. Apart from helping to distinguish one movement from the other, ideology helps to sustain a movement.