A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided. In modern politics, the most high profile political campaigns are focused on candidates for head of state or head of government, often a President or Prime Minister.
Activists are the ‘foot soldiers’ loyal to the cause, the true believers who will carry the run by volunteer activists. Such volunteers and interns may take part in activities such as canvassing door-to-door and making phone calls on behalf of the campaign.
Activism consists of intentional efforts to promote, impede or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes.
Activists can function in roles as public officials, as in judicial activism. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. introduced the term “judicial activism” in a January 1947 Fortune magazine article titled “The Supreme Court: 1947.”
Some activists try to persuade people to change their behavior directly, rather than to persuade governments to change laws. The cooperative movement seeks to build new institutions which conform to cooperative principles, and generally does not lobby or protest politically.
There is also a distinction to be made between Activists and activism, as many who engage in activism would not label themselves as activists. It is crucial to recognise this, lest one fail to recognise the amount of activism being carried out and risk marginalising this type of social change as a specific form of activism i.e. as carried out by the activist. For example environmental activists’ that align themselves with Earth First, or Road Protestors would commonly be labelled activists, whereas a local community fighting to stop their park or green being sold off, or built on would not be classed as activists, despite their using similar means to similarly conservative ends. In short Activism is not always carried out by Activists.