Over many years, quite a lot of riots and demonstrations, such as student movements, occupy movements, and racism protests, have occurred all over the world. These varieties of activities have been interpreted its meaning and effect through unruly lens for a long time. In this blog, I focus on the meaning and motivation of actions as I believe that the meaning of activities is reflected by motivation.
Motivation generally means internal and external factors people face to create actions. In terms unruly politics, Van Zomeren and Spears (2009) point out that collective action such as riots and demonstrations has occurred worldwide in order to change the relationships between individuals, groups and external reality. For example, a wide range of protests and demonstrations known as the 2011 Egyptian revolution emerged in Tahrir square in order to oppose authoritarian regime by former president Hosni Mubarak (Jones, 2012). In particular, the introduced and reinforced discriminatory idea that the young Egyptian was a burden on society increased frustrations of citizens who are excluded economically and politically (El-Sharnouby, 2015). In other words, the people’s motivation to participate in the Egyptian revolution in 2011 was ‘fury’ over the autocratic and discriminatory government. Indeed, 28th of January on which some protests began is called ‘the Friday of Anger’. Although the Egyptian toppled Mubarak’s autocratic regime that governed Egypt for 30 years, the revolution resulted in creating a number of arrestees and causalities.
‘Anger’ is, so to speak, ‘minus’ emotions. While anger would be driving force to inspire people, at the same time, it triggers further anger and amplifies negative energy. Those who are provoked by anger are likely to become a mob. Once people run riot, others try to violently oppose them the force in order to die it down. Participants in a riot do not necessarily resort to violence to accomplish their goals. However, they tend to justify violence as a way to tackle with problem while being caught up in the negative emotions. In that riots and demonstrations cause social confusion would be a contributory factor that these actions are sometimes criticised.
How can we overcome it? Well… I think an answer is to shift motivation for actions from ‘minus’ emotions to ‘plus’ emotions. For example, in a case of an antiwar movement, negative feelings, such as anger, anxiety and fear, swirl within the message against war. Anger will stimulate further anger, anxiety further anxiety, and fear further fear. What matters is to proclaim ‘promotion for peace’ to the public instead of the ‘antiwar’. Apparently, these seem to be similar statement, but emotions surrounding the words are completely opposite. The context of praying for peace includes positive motivation like happiness, calmness and smile. Hidden messages which are associated with ‘peace’ would make people calm and catalyse positive behaviour to a prosperous future.
Of course, just changing the name of actions does not necessarily contribute to a peaceful result. If we take a wrong way to achieve our aim, a tragedy that no one presumed would happen as a result. However, words often have a great effect on actions. I believe that messages derived from ‘plus’ feelings rather than ‘minus’ feelings might provide us with a favourable and meaningful influence.
‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’
Martin Luther King, Jr.
El-Sharnouby, D. (2015). From State Exclusionary Politics to Youth Inclusionary Practices: The Tahrir Square Experience. International Journal of Sociology, 45(3), pp.176-189.
Jones, P. (2012). The Arab Spring. International Journal, 67(2), pp.447-463
Van Zomeren, M., and Spears, R. (2009). Metaphors of protest: A classification of motivations for collective action. Journal of Social Issues, 65(4), 661-679.