Social movement

stages of a social movement

A social movement is a type of group action. There is no single consensus definition of a social movement.[1] They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist, or undo a social change. They provide a way of social change from the bottom within nations.[2]

Social movements can be defined as "organizational structures and strategies that may empower oppressed populations to mount effective challenges and resist the more powerful and advantaged elites".[2]

Political science and sociology have developed a variety of theories and empirical research on social movements. For example, some research in political science highlights the relation between popular movements and the formation of new political parties[3] as well as discussing the function of social movements in relation to agenda setting and influence on politics.[4] Sociologists distinguish between several types of social movement examining things such as scope, type of change, method of work, range, and time frame.

Modern Western social movements became possible through education (the wider dissemination of literature) and increased mobility of labor due to the industrialization and urbanization of 19th-century societies.[5] It is sometimes argued that the freedom of expression, education and relative economic independence prevalent in the modern Western culture are responsible for the unprecedented number and scope of various contemporary social movements. Many of the social movements of the last hundred years grew up, like the Mau Mau in Kenya, to oppose Western colonialism. Social movements have been and continue to be closely connected with democratic political systems. Occasionally, social movements have been involved in democratizing nations, but more often they have flourished after democratization. Over the past 200 years, they have become part of a popular and global expression of dissent.[6]

Modern movements often utilize technology and the internet to mobilize people globally. Adapting to communication trends is a common theme among successful movements.[7] Research is beginning to explore how advocacy organizations linked to social movements in the U.S.[7] and Canada[8] use social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action. The systematic literature review of Buettner & Buettner analyzed the role of Twitter during a wide range of social movements (2007 WikiLeaks, 2009 Moldova, 2009 Austria student protest, 2009 Israel-Gaza, 2009 Iran green revolution, 2009 Toronto G20, 2010 Venezuela, 2010 Germany Stuttgart21, 2011 Egypt, 2011 England, 2011 US Occupy movement, 2011 Spain Indignados, 2011 Greece Aganaktismenoi movements, 2011 Italy, 2011 Wisconsin labor protests, 2012 Israel Hamas, 2013 Brazil Vinegar, 2013 Turkey).[9]

Definitions

Mario Diani argues that nearly all definitions share three criteria: "a network of informal interactions between a plurality of individuals, groups and/or organizations, engaged in a political or cultural conflict, on the basis of a shared collective identity"[10]

Sociologist Charles Tilly defines social movements as a series of contentious performances, displays and campaigns by which ordinary people make collective claims on others.[6] For Tilly, social movements are a major vehicle for ordinary people's participation in public politics.[11] He argues that there are three major elements to a social movement:[6]

  1. Campaigns: a sustained, organized public effort making collective claims of target authorities;
  2. Repertoire (repertoire of contention): employment of combinations from among the following forms of political action: creation of special-purpose associations and coalitions, public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, rallies, demonstrations, petition drives, statements to and in public media, and pamphleteering; and
  3. WUNC displays: participants' concerted public representation of worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitments on the part of themselves and/or their constituencies.

Sidney Tarrow defines a social movement as "collective challenges [to elites, authorities, other groups or cultural codes] by people with common purposes and solidarity in sustained interactions with elites, opponents and authorities." He specifically distinguishes social movements from political parties and advocacy groups.[12]

The sociologists John McCarthy and Mayer Zald define as a social movement as "a set of opinions and beliefs in a population which represents preferences for changing some elements of the social structure and/or reward distribution of a society."[13]

According to Paul van Seeters and Paul James defining a social movement entails a few minimal conditions of ‘coming together’:

(1.) the formation of some kind of collective identity; (2.) the development of a shared normative orientation; (3.) the sharing of a concern for change of the status quo and (4.) the occurrence of moments of practical action that are at least subjectively connected together across time addressing this concern for change. Thus we define a social movement as a form of political association between persons who have at least a minimal sense of themselves as connected to others in common purpose and who come together across an extended period of time to effect social change in the name of that purpose.[14]