AskDefine | Define grassroot

Extensive Definition

For other meanings, see Grass roots (disambiguation).
A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the constituents of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it is natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures. Often, grassroots movements are at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party. For instance, a grassroots movement can lead to significant voter registration for a political party, which in turn helps the state and national parties.


Grassroots organize and lobby through procedures including:
  • hosting house meetings or parties
  • having larger meetings—AGMs
  • putting up posters
  • talking with pedestrians on the street (often involving informational clipboards)
  • gathering signatures for petitions
  • setting up information tables
  • raising money from many small donors for political advertising or campaigns
  • organizing large demonstrations
  • asking individuals to submit opinions to media outlets and government officials
  • holding get out the vote activities, which include the practices of reminding people to vote and transporting them to polling places.


In the United States, the first use of the phrase "grassroots and boots" is thought to have been coined by Senator Albert Jeremiah Beveridge of Indiana, who declared of the Progressives Party in 1912 that: "This party [the Progressive Party] has come from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of people's hard necessities."
Faking a grassroots movement is known as astroturfing. Astroturfing—as the name suggests—is named after a brand of artificial grass, AstroTurf. Astroturfing is similar in practice to the grassroots movement, except that the lobbyists behind it hide their agenda by pretending to be individuals voicing their opinions. The term has incorporated itself into common speech.
grassroot in Danish: Græsrodsbevægelse
grassroot in German: Graswurzelbewegung
grassroot in Hebrew: תנועה שורשית
grassroot in Japanese: 草の根運動
grassroot in Norwegian Nynorsk: Grasrotrørsle
grassroot in Chinese: 草根
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