Politics

Study Notes

Direct action

Level:
AS
Board:
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Direct action is where a group tries to implement a policy or prevent the implementation of a policy itself, rather than persuading others. Direct Action has been used more and more over the last 20 years, with environmental and animal welfare groups being particularly fond of it.

Examples of direct action from those groups include anti-fracking groups blockading the entrance to a drilling site, Anti Genetically-Modified (GM) crop groups tearing GM crops out of the ground, and animal welfare groups releasing animals who are being kept for testing.

Such actions tend to be illegal, though usually peaceful. They are devised to get media attention, especially TV coverage, and change public views, rather than present a detailed argument.

There are a number of explanations for this development: Firstly, TV is the main source of news for most people. Direct action is “televisual”, whereas petitions are not. If the TV channels won’t broadcast it, the internet can also be used (clips on YouTube, etc). Secondly, older means, such as marches, have lost their novelty and get ignored by the media. Thirdly, our FPTP electoral system and strong party discipline means that some issues can be “frozen out”, and approaches to MPs and Ministers prove fruitless. It is also probably true that the public have become more tolerant of direct action in recent years.

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