This article attempts to identify and explore the convergent features of social movements and community development, arguing that they already share a distinctive, if uneasy, alliance around what might be called the politics of democracy. Exploring connections, as well as points of difference, this article suggests that a critical dialogue between the two might, in the longer term, contribute to a positive realignment between social movements and community development groups. In our view, social movement praxis has much to offer community development in reviving and reasserting its more radical potential, by offering untapped opportunities for building community, forging collective identity and imagining political alternatives. Specifically, the article explores why and how protest tactics matter: their political significance and the dilemmas and possibilities they present both for movement participants and community development practitioners. The article, while recognizing the often complex and constraining contexts within which it is deployed, also identifies particular features of community development that may contribute to the building of more grounded and participatory movements. In highlighting the overlapping and progressive commitment of social movements and community development organisations, we recognize the acute challenges involved in building support and forging solidarity among disenfranchised peoples. In the final section, we highlight and explore potential sources of and approaches to solidarity, assessing their relative merits for a more politically engaged community development practice.