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Social Movements

Social Movements. Protest : the act of challenging, resisting, or making demands upon authorities, powerholders, and/or cultural beliefs and practices by some individual or group

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Social Movements

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  1. Social Movements • Protest: the act of challenging, resisting, or making demands upon authorities, powerholders, and/or cultural beliefs and practices by some individual or group • Social movement: a collective, organized, sustained and noninstitutional challenge to authorities, powerholders, or cultural beliefs and practices. • Revolutionary movement: a social movement that seeks, at a minimum, to overthrow the government or state

  2. Protest • The act of challenging, resisting, or making demands upon • authorities, power-holders, • and/or cultural beliefs and practices • by some individual or group

  3. A Social Movement is… A challenge to • authorities, power-holders • cultural beliefs and practices • actions to promote or resist social change that is… • collective (multiple people) • organized (coordinated, at least to some degree) • sustained (lasts a while, not just one outburst) and • non-institutional (problematic – outside the “normal” structures or routines of society. Hard to define…)

  4. Revolutionary Movement • Revolutionary movement: A specific type of social movement dedicated to carrying out a specific revolution. • Revolution: A social movement advancing exclusive claims to control of the state, or some segment of it.

  5. More Definitions… • Collective action (esp. protests): people act together in some concerted fashion. • Collective campaign: series of collective actions oriented toward the same general social change goal bounded by space, time, and/or participants • Social movement (alternative def): a complex set of collective campaigns and other collective events broadly oriented to the same general goal • Emphasis on complexity, diffuse boundaries • Competing definitions, orientations within the movement

  6. Goals… • Can be extremely vague and ill-defined, especially for relatively unorganized turmoil expressing discontent without clear proposals: For example, vague goals such as “to make things better for farmers [or peasants, or poor urbanites]." • Organizations are more likely to articulate clear goals or proposals. • Different factions of the same movement may disagree about specific goals…i.e. different branches of women’s movement, Black movement, workers’ movements, gay movement. • A complex movement generally encompasses may specific and even competing goals within a broader more diffuse social change orientation

  7. Formal Organizations??? • Coherent decision-making groups set goals, plan strategies, accumulate resources • Often seek directly to influence those who have power • Often plan events designed to draw in other people OR to influence other people’s opinions • May take many forms: moderate law-abiding, small informal or small clandestine, large bureaucratic, radical or disruptive, religious or secular

  8. Collective Action • Demonstrations, mass protests: Typically planned by an organization or coalition of organizations, but may draw in many other people. • May also occur more spontaneously after a major precipitating event, or at a gathering formed for another purpose.

  9. Collective Action • Riots, short-term insurrections: Typically not planned (although some may be incited). Generally build upon prior sentiments, organized on the spot.

  10. Individual Actions • Individual thoughts, ideas • Isolated contributions, usually financial • Votes, public opinion, “green” consumerism • Some individuals take extensive actions to promote their movements: one-person campaigns • Individual acts of interpersonal resistance and solidarity. • Challenge hierarchies and form solidarities in interpersonal relations.

  11. Issues? • What Drives Social Movements? • Universal issues: “everyone” benefits (in principle): peace, environment • Responses to economic crises, threats to subsistence, livelihood • Inequality issues • Specific issue, moral reform movements • On behalf of yourself • On behalf of others, victims • Think in terms of the social structure of the issue

  12. Universal Causes • Examples: peace, war, the environment • Despite universal claims, always contentious • Peace: avoid war vs. use force to get rid of a perceived problem • War: potential for total destruction • Environment: all are harmed if the planet is destroyed, but the harms and the costs of protection are distributed unevenly • The groups supporting these issues tend to be tied to lifestyle, political, or religious subcultures, but not to deep social divisions

  13. Inequality Issues • Oppressed people who form separate economically & politically weak communities (many ethnic/racial minorities). Few ties to dominant groups. • Class movements • Reactive responses to subsistence threats • Longer-term institutionalized movements seeking state power • These may be tied to deep social divisions • People who experience discrimination (e.g. women, gays, disabled, religious minorities) • Typically integrated with other groups • Vary in class position and level of economic deprivation • Group members may disagree about whether oppressed

  14. Movement Forms • Reform campaigns carried by formal organizations that raise money, lobby legislators, organize volunteers. • Interest groups, charitable groups. • Larger pools of public opinion. • Larger movements (e.g. women, Blacks, labor) with many organizations, strong base, have won presence in the polity • Nationalist movements: broad upswelling of oppressed populations, revolutionary often unless it is repressed • Sporadic or unorganized uprisings or resistance by oppressed people


  16. DEFINITIONS HUMAN RIGHTS: are the rights that all people have by virtue of being human beings. HUMAN RIGHTS: are often defined internationally, nationally and locally by various law making bodies.

  17. Overview Modern Protection of Human Rights • United Nations • Regional Organizations • Local Non-Governmental Organizations

  18. Brief History • Antiquity • Code of Hammurabi • Rights of Athenian citizens • Medieval • Magna Carta (1215) • Sir Thomas Aquinas’ theory of natural rights (13th Century)

  19. Brief History • Enlightenment • English Declaration of the Rights of Man (1689) • U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776) • French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) • United States Constitution and Bill of Rights (1789)

  20. Brief History • Early Developments (cont.) • International Committee for the Red Cross (1863) • Geneva Convention (1864) • Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907) • League of Nations and the International Labor Organization (1919)

  21. Brief History • Aftermath of World War II • Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech(January 6, 1941) • The Atlantic Charter Between the United States and Great Britain (August 14, 1941) • The Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals • Creation of the United Nations (1945)

  22. Modern Protection of International Human Rights • The Preamble to the United Nations Charter states that the “Peoples of the United Nations” are determined “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”

  23. Modern Protection of International Human Rights • In 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration enumerates civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, but the Declaration contains no provisions for monitoring or enforcement.

  24. Modern Protection of International Human Rights • In 1966, the General Assembly adopted: • The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and its First Optional Protocol) • The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are now known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  25. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: • Prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” without regard to citizenship • Prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (personal integrity) • Prohibits slavery • Limits the use of the death penalty in countries that allow it to the most serious crimes committed by persons over 18

  26. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (cont.): • Prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention • Protects freedom of movement and residence • Protects the right to trial, presumption of innocence, right to a lawyer, right to an appeal, freedom from self-incrimination, and freedom from double jeopardy • Protects freedom of opinion and expression • Protects freedom of association and assembly • Public emergency exception (but torture, executions, and slavery are never permissible!!!!) • Ratified by the United States in 1992!!!!

  27. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: • Right of people to work and make a “decent living for themselves and their families” • Right to safe and healthy working conditions • Right to form trade unions with the right to strike • Right of everyone to Social Security, including social insurance “widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society”

  28. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (cont.): • Right to adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions • Right to education • Right to health care • Economic rights are subject to each country’s ability to provide such rights progressively as its resources permit • Signed but not ratified by the United States!!!

  29. Modern Protection of International Human Rights • In addition to the International Bill of Human Rights, the United Nations has drafted and promulgated over 80 human rights instruments: • genocide • racial discrimination • discrimination against women • refugee protection • torture • the rights of disabled persons • the rights of the child

  30. UN Human Rights Bodies • Security Council • General Assembly • Economic and Social Council • Commission on Human Rights • Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights • Commission on the Status of Women

  31. UN Human Rights Bodies • Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice • International Court of Justice • International Criminal Court • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (created by the General Assembly in 1993)

  32. UN Human Rights Bodies • Treaty Monitoring Bodies • Human Rights Committee • Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination • Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women • Committee Against Torture • Committee on the Rights of the Child • Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights

  33. Use of State and Federal Courts to Protect Human Rights • Congress and State Legislatures may enact legislation that specifically incorporates international law into domestic law • Judicial interpretation and application of existing legislative or constitutional provisions

  34. Local Non-Governmental Organizations • American Refugee Committee • Center for Victims of Torture • Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy • School of the Americas Watch • Tibet Women's Association

  35. NGO Activities • Monitor elections and political trials • Investigate human rights and conditions • Analyze human rights practices in closed countries – Albania, North Korea, Saudi Arabia • Identify and analyze conflicts in Chiapas and Kosovo • Child slavery in Haiti; child health in Mexico, Uganda and the United States

  36. NGO Activities • Lobby United Nations • Draft model statutes • Inquest procedures • Forensic techniques • Domestic violence laws • Represent political asylum seekers • Promote ratification of human rights treaties

  37. NGO Activities • Influence Human Rights Foreign Policy • Public Education • Work to abolish the death penalty and represent inmates on death row • Train activists in Eastern Europe and Nepal to use international human rights law to eliminate domestic violence • Boycott companies that use child labor

  38. Where Do Human Rights Begin? In small places, close to home, so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person, the neighborhood he lives in, the factory, farm, or office where he worked. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Eleanor Roosevelt Never Doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world, indeed that are the only ones that ever have. Margret Mead

  39. Poverty A little about poverty…

  40. Poverty is the lack of basic necessities that all human beings must have: food and water, shelter, education, medical care, security, etc. A multi-dimensional issue, poverty exceeds all social, economic, and political boundaries. As such, efforts to alleviate poverty must be informed of a variety of different factors.

  41. 4.4 billion people live in developing countries. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income Global Poverty ·

  42. The most recent estimate, released on October 14, 2009 by FAO,  says that 1.02 billion people are undernourished, a sizable increase from its 2006 estimate of  854 million people

  43. The FAO estimate is based on statistical aggregates…  • It looks at a country's income level and income distribution and uses this information to estimate how many people receive such a low level of income that they are malnourished. 

  44. Not isolated to Developing countries…

  45. American Poverty • The official poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007. This was the first statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004, when poverty increased to 12.7 percent from 12.5 percent in 2003. • In 2008, 39.8 million people were in poverty, up from 37.3 million in 2007 -- the second consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty. • In 2008, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (8.6 percent in 2008 -- up from 8.2 percent in 2007), Asians (11.8 percent in 2008 -- up from 10.2 percent in 2007) and Hispanics (23.2 percent in 2008 -- up from 21.5 percent in 2007). Poverty rates in 2008 were statistically unchanged for Blacks (24.7 percent).

  46. The poverty rate in 2008 (13.2 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1997 but was 9.2 percentage points lower than in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available. • Since 1960, the number of people below poverty has not exceeded the 2008 figure of 39.8 million people. • The poverty rate increased for children under 18 years old (19.0 percent in 2008 -- up from 18.0 percent in 2007) and people 18 to 64 years old (11.7 percent in 2008 -- up from 10.9 percent in 2007), while it remained statistically unchanged for people 65 years and over (9.7 percent).

  47. Back to the Developing World • Three-fifths lack basic sanitation • Almost one third have no access to clean water • A quarter do not have adequate housing • A fifth have no access to modern health services • As of 2008 (2005 statistics), the World Bank has calculated that there were an estimated 1,345 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1.25 a day or less

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