What is a social movement and how does one develop?

What is a social movement? You know when you’re watching the news (or seeing breaking news on social media) and hear the reporters talking about a recent march that was protesting against injustice (ex. Women’s March)? Well, they were talking about a social movement.

A social movement is a demonstration by large groups of people to either create or resist social change, fight for social justice, and/or to provide a political voice for an oppressed group. But social movements are much more complex than what you see on TV or on your mobile device. There are stages to it and there are different types of movements.

What is social constructivism?

Social constructivism is a social learning theory that was developed by psychologist Lev Vygotsky. With this concept, Vygotsky wanted to prove that learning didn’t just happen solely via being taught new information. Rather, he believed that cognitive functions are developed from social interactions, and thus learning also occurs when people (specifically young children) interact with others.

According to Vygotsky’s 1978 study, Interaction between learning and development:

“Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level and, later on, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals.”

Noam Chomsky on capitalism, terrorism, and education

Noam Chomsky, who is often referred to as “the father of modern linguistics,” is a linguist, philosopher, historian, and social critic. Additionally, he is the author of over 100 books, writing about war, society, and politics.

Here are Chomsky’s 3 thoughts on society:

1) “It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions – you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.”

Chomsky, in this quote, is criticizing capitalism. He believes that even though Western societies are always preaching about freedom and claiming that all their citizens are free, they are not. They are not free because they are controlled by the institutions that they work for.

5 books every armchair sociologist needs to read

(Just to be totally transparent with you, this review includes affiliate links. What this basically means is that if you decided to use the provided links to buy the product, I will get a small commission from your purchase, at no extra cost to you.)

Armchair sociologist – this is a term used to describe a sociologist who practices sociology without going into the field and doing research. And because these types of sociologist are often at home in their thinking chairs, analyzing society, they need to read a lot of books so that they can learn and understand the different perspectives of society; they need to be able to put on a different set of lens (racial, economic, gender, etc.) when observing people and their behaviours.

So here are 5 books that will show every armchair sociologist the experiences of people as they move through society:

What is a social construct?

Have you ever wondered why a post-secondary education is considered to be important? I mean, the material you learn isn’t as practical as actual work experience. Or have you ever wondered why each bill of money has a specific value? I mean, it is just a piece of colored paper. Well, these two things (and many others) have social value because of social construction.

Social constructionism is this sociological theory that believes all things that have social meaning are created by individuals and by societies. In other words, individuals construct meanings for things that would otherwise be meaningless. And as more people join the group (or society), the meanings of these things become reality because large amounts of people believe it. This is the basic process of a social construct.

What is a social problem and how do you define it?

You are walking down a street in downtown one day and see an entire block, maybe longer, of homeless people asking for money. You wonder to yourself how something like this can even exist. Well, it’s a social problem (or social issue) that hasn’t been solved yet.

A social problem is a condition or societal behavior that negatively affects people (i.e. poverty and homelessness) and that needs to be addressed and repaired. However, there are two requirements that need to be met before a condition is constituted as a social problem.

The first requirement, which is called the objective component, is that the condition must affect large amounts of people in a damaging way. The second requirement, which is called the subjective component, is that the condition needs to have a perception that it has to be addressed.

Martin Luther King, Jr. on capitalism, policies, and racism

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister and a Civil Rights activist. He was well-known across the world for his activism for equal rights for African-Americans and was the most visible spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement.

Here are Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 3 thoughts on society:

1) “Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”

This Martin Luther King, Jr. quote is pretty self-explanatory. With a capitalistic economic system, there will never be equally wealthy people because there will always be two groups --the rich (a small few who hold the majority of the riches) and the poor (the majority of the nation).

Sociology majors, here’s what you can do with your degree

Being a sociology major, you probably hear people asking you what you’re going to do with your sociology degree a lot. I did too, so I get how it feels. So here are some encouraging words and a list of potential careers.

When I was studying sociology in university, I was often asked what I can do with my degree after I graduated. I wasn’t 100 percent sure at first. I knew I wanted to major in sociology because it was so interesting to me, but didn’t know what I wanted to work as or what type of career I wanted after I graduated from university (well, I had an idea, but wasn’t sure if I could do it).

After being asked this question multiple times by friends and family, I decided to do some research into the potential careers that I could have. Lucky for me, there is a thing called Google, and I was able to find a bunch of lists of potential careers for sociology majors very quickly. I picked one site and looked through it, and I saw myself having a career in ALL OF THE POTENTIAL JOBS!

Angela Davis on racism, prison, and the women’s suffrage

Angela Davis is a political activist, social commentator, and educator. During the 1960s, she was an important voice who advocated for the oppressed and the Civil Rights Movement.

Here are Davis’s three thoughts on society:

Malcolm X on race, society, and the media

Malcolm X was an American Muslim minister who fought for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. He often preached for race pride and social justice and encouraged visible minorities to fight against racism and oppression.

Here are Malcolm X’s three thoughts on society and my interpretations of them:

Book Review: Oxford Dictionary of Sociology

(Just to be totally transparent with you, this review includes affiliate links. What this basically means is that if you decided to use the provided links to buy the product, I will get a small kickback from your purchase, at no extra cost to you.)

If you are a sociology major or just someone who wants to learn about society, this dictionary is a must-have!

When I was in university, there were many times when I didn’t understand a concept that a professor taught or a sociological theory that I read in a text. So one day, I decided to ask one of my professors for extra help or for extra resources to help me understand the content I was learning better. He suggested that I get a sociological dictionary, especially if I wanted to continue my studies and get a post-graduate degree.

James Baldwin’s 3 thoughts on society

James Baldwin, born in 1924, was an author and social critic. He was a gay black man living during a time when racism and homophobia were still very strong. He had many thoughts and criticisms about this time. Here are three of them:

1) “People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.”

“What goes around, comes back around,” is pretty much what Baldwin is trying to say here. If you continuously treat people horribly and as less than equals, one day, the bullied will rally together and fight back. And sometimes, they’ll do more than protest –they may try to overthrow you to take back their power.

The oppressed are not going to just sit still in a corner, and let the oppressor beat and drag them down forever. They will eventually find the strength to stand up and fight back.