Social activism is an intentional action with the goal of bringing about social change. If you feel strongly about a cause and are working towards a change, you could be considered an activist. An activist is anyone who is fighting for change in society.
Community organizing is a process of organizing for social change in the interest of people who don’t have a say in the decision-making processes in order to rearrange power inequalities by establishing non-hierarchical community organizations – organizations in the structural sense, not necessarily in the legal sense. Community organizing revitalizes old democratic institutions and creates new ones. Community organizers learn how to identify, recruit, and develop leadership and build community around that leadership and draw power from that community. Organizers challenge people to act on behalf of shared values and interests. They draw people together in new relationships that enable people to gain new understanding of their interests, and they help people develop new resources and new capacity to use these resources for the collective benefit.
Source: Ganz, Marshall (2004) “Organizing.” In George R. Goethals, Georgia J. Sorenson, and James MacGregor Burns, eds. Encyclopedia of Leadership. Vol. 3. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Source: Definition of the European Community Organizing Network
Source: Stout, Jeffrey (2010). Blessed are the Organized. New York: Princeton University Press.