Saturday, January 28, 2012

Social Movements

Social Movements


Social movements actively and deliberately intervene in the affairs of a society. Members of social movements are not content to be passive playthings of social forces; they attempt to influence the course of human events by collective action. Many social movements have brought about social changes, even though many movements have failed.


Social movements last for many years and are fairly well structured. Their members have a shared belief system or ideology. The ideology provides a criticism of existing social conditions and provides a concept to the movement's purpose.


Social movements can be classified into different types based on their objectives.


Regressive Movements


These movements try to reverse some current trend.
For example there is a documentary, that says many christians are doing things which Christ would not have endorsed or advocated.
In India, Gandhi advocated Swadeshi movement. Even today, some people do support that movement.


Reform Movements


They are satisfied with the major social structure but want certain reforms in specific areas.


Revolutionary Movements


They are deeply dissatisfied with the current social order and work for radical change. Their objective is change of society conforming to their ideological blueprint.  The proponents demand a drastic change in the structure of the socieity. Communism was and is a revolutionary movement.


Utopian Movements


The members envision a blissful state and express collective behavior related to it but do not translate it into a society wide collective action to change the society.  Utopian movements are based ideal concepts.


Social Movements and Social Change


Social movements play a vital part in the process through which social problems are brought into public attention. Many successful social movements become institutionalized. They give birth to new institutions in the society thus creating significant social change.
Spector and Kitsuse (1973) argued that social problem and social movements have a life cycle. Social problems create discontent in some people. Slowly, they become aware of others that share their discontent and join together to start collective action. As the group expands, a social movement is born, which does the propaganda to attract the public attention and increase their support base. A changed agenda is created, ideology is developed and specific demands for change are made on government as social power centres. If the movement is successful, it becomes institutionalized,  and the people who organized the movement become the part of the established order.



For Further Reading

 Ash, Robert, A. (1972), Social Movements in America, Markham, Chicago

Robertson, Ian (1977), Sociology, Worth Publishers, Inc., New York.
Spector, Malcolm, and John I. Kitsuse (1973), "Social Problems: A re-formulation", Social Problems, 21, pp. 145-159.




Comments and editing to improve the article are welcome

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