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Social Movements

Social Movements

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Social Movements

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  1. Social Movements Suggested sources: 1. Social Movement. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2. Social Movement Theories. Professor E. Wilma van der Veen, University of Alaska,

  2. Social Movement: Description • A social movement is a type of group action focused on bringing about social change. • Social movements are a series of contentious performances, displays and campaigns, by which ordinary people make collective claims on others (C. Tilly). • Social movements typically are thought of as long-lasting events that attract many participants with common goals for changing a specific structure of society. • Social movements typically attract persons with different objectives for creating change, varying from peaceful demonstrations to violent confrontations. • Social movements typically have many sub-groups with somewhat different visions of structural change.

  3. Social Movement: Scope • Reform movements Movements dedicated to changing some norms, usually legal ones. • Legal strikes by union workers for better pay and benefits. • Green movement advocating stricter environmental laws. • Appeals for societal restrictions on smoking, alcohol abuse, pornography. • Appeals for repeal of Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, permitting abortion. • Appeals for enforcement of existing laws (e.g., deportation of illegal workers). • Appeals for new laws (e.g., same-sex marriages).

  4. Social Movement: Scope • Radical movements Movements dedicated to changing value systems. Appeals to make fundamental changes. • American Civil Rights movement. • Polish Solidarity movement. • Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.

  5. Social Movement: Functionalist Theories • The Adaptive Perspective • Movements arise in response to widely-recognized need for change in the structure of society. • Movements seek to improve the functioning of society to respond to changes in the external environment. • Citizens share a sense of anxiety and frustration over existing institutions. • Citizens are mainly united in defining goals for a new structure to society. • Movements are functional in changing institutions to meet challenges of a new environment, training new leaders, and engendering social cohesion. • Movements are dysfunctional in creating transitional disruption in existing institutions and temporarily displacing individuals from existing roles.

  6. Social Movement: Functionalist Theories • Value-Added Theory • Emphasizes ongoing interaction between social movements and society. That is, it is less “reaction to changing environment” and more “constant changes to society as the environment changes.” • Six essential conditions needed for change. • Structural conduciveness: Societal institutions and leaders are open to change and new ideas. • Structural strains: Recognition of strain in institutions and the need for change. • Development of a generalized belief system regarding needed change and viable alternatives. • Precipitating events. Triggering events to mobilize already existing felt need for change.

  7. Social Movement: Functionalist Theories • Value-Added Theory • Six essential conditions needed for change. • Mobilization of participants for change. This mobilization can vary from non-violent to violent interest groups with similar goals for change. • Operation of social control. Counter movements, government action to slow or stop change, different forms of public discourse and action.

  8. Social Movement: Conflict Theories • An Activist Perspective • Interest groups attempt to gain power, produce social reforms, gain entry into established structures of society. • The power elite will attempt to prevent such movements from occurring. • Less powerful segments must mobilize their resources to successfully compete against more powerful segments of society. • The “we” vs. “they” perspective of competing interest groups is more likely to engender antagonist public discourse and violence.

  9. Social Movement: Conflict Theories • Mobilization Process • Building a power base among sympathetic political and economic elites. • Recruiting new members with similar beliefs. • Motivating persons to action. • Removing barriers to participation. • Creating a collective identity to retain existing members.

  10. Social Movement: Conflict Theories • Political Process Theory • Focus on windows of opportunity for social change. • Addresses the issue of timing of social movements and provides explanations for the processes of social movements. • Growth of political pluralism (competition among two or more political parties with fairly equal power). • Elite disunity, internal fragmentation of the elite, disunity among the prevailing powerful segments. • Broadened access to power gaps. • Elites reach out to other interest groups to gain needed majorities for control of power. • New opportunities for new groups.

  11. Social Movement: Conflict Theories • New Movement Theory • Focus upon emerging culture, ideology, generalized beliefs, and values in shaping social change and development. • Groups attempt to sustain and expand their “lifespace,” their hold on the ability to define proper values. • Focus on ethics and morality and who defines what is ethical and moral. • Complex agendas emerge as groups seek to expand their values to a broad spectrum of life. • Value-oriented groups do not see the government as an ally. • Typified by political righteousness, agents of cultural revolution.

  12. Social Movements Summary The Future: Live it or Live with It!