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.

According to sociologist Sidney Tarrow, he defined social movements in his book Power in Movement as “collective challenges by people with common purposes and solidarity in sustained interaction with elites, opponents and authorities.”

Although the term social movements were first introduced by German Sociologist Lorenz von Stein in 1848, Tarrow’s studies on the subject have been much more popular, such as his study of the cyclical life of a social movement.

What are the stages of a social movement?

In addition to Tarrow, Herbert Blumer, Charles Tilly, and Armand Mauss have also contributed to the study of social movements. They are best known for their research on the stages of social movements.

Blumer, Tilly, and Mauss believe that there are 4 stages:

1) Emergence – this is when a social movement is created.

2) Coalescence – in this stage, the social movement begins to grow.

3) Bureaucratization – this is when it achieves success or failure.

4) Decline – this is when the social movement no longer exists.

What are the different types of social movements?

When you see social protests on TV, they may all look the same to you –just a bunch of people protesting for something. However, there are various types of social movements, as each one has a different goal.

So, here are the types of social movements:

1) Revolutionary – These types are dedicated to revolutionary reforms and gaining some control of the government.

2) Reformative – Reformative social movements look to make minor changes to society rather than major, radical changes.

3) Conservative – These movements oppose other social movements that are fighting for change. Conservative movements are dedicated to preserving the existing values and norms of society.

4) Redemptive – Redemptive social movements are radical movements that are focused on the individual.

Social movements and protests are great because they can give the voiceless a voice. It reveals issues or problems currently happening in society that need to be fixed. It can also show the government that they need to develop certain social policies to make people’s lives better.

What are your thoughts on social movements? Share them below in the comments.





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