Social Movements Things change when people make things change.
What are Social Movements? Loosely or tightly organized collective efforts by relatively powerless groups to affect social or political change operating outside of institutionalized political channels. – (e.g. Civil Rights, Global Justice, Women’s Movement, Environmental, Labor, etc.)
Key Characteristics of Social Movements Operate primarily outside institutional political systems Arise due to a group’s exclusion from “normal” institutional political channels Are always resisted by those in positions of power and privilege (when it is a movement that threatens said power and privilege) – (People in power prefer protesters go through institutionalized channels because the people in power run those channels)
Goals of Social Movements 1.Redistribute material resources more equitably – E.g. Labor Movement, Global Justice Movement 2.Gain full citizenship – E.g. Civil Rights, Women’s, Gay Rights Movement 3.Re-define society’s values, norms, and priorities – E.g. Environmental and Anti-War Movements
Source of Social Movement Power How do powerless people exercise power? By withholding their consent! – Refusing to participate in everyday life – Denying others their labor (your labor) – Most effective when done collectively
Why is withholding consent or compliance powerful? Powerful people only have the power we allow them to have when we comply.
Movement Tactics and Strategies Civil disobedience – Purposefully and openly violating the law Street protests – Marches, parades, rallies, etc. Strikes – Refusing to work to force employer to concede Boycotts – Refusing to shop, buy, or patronize a targeted enterprise Property destruction – Intentional damage done to public or private property Violence – Use of physical force or power against another
Elite Responses to Social Movements Repression – Using violent and non-violent means (e.g. arrests, intimidation, military force, etc.) Co-optation – Taking over issues or leaders by adopting movement issues or recruiting its leaders De-legitimizing Strategies – Applying labels like “communist,” “terrorist,” or “radical” to leaders or movement goals to undermine legitimacy of movement demands Covert Efforts – To infiltrate or sabotage through use of FBI, CIA, or paid informants to undermine movement organizations
What do/can Social Movements Accomplish? Specific policy changes Changes in legal codes Shifts in attitudes, norms and values Often inspire counter-movements – (e.g. Conservative backlash to Women’s Movement)
Why are Social Movements Important Sociologically? Represent efforts to re-define social reality from the bottom-up Expose the normally hidden dynamics and structures of power in society Demonstrate that otherwise powerless people are able to “act back” and influence society