January 17 , 2012
• Collective Action
• Social Problems as Collective Behavior
• Social Movement
• Types of Social Movements
• Claims making
• Explaining Social Movements
• Stages in Social Movements
• Social Movements and Social Change
• Online Participation & Group Projects
• Group Projects
The Learning Triangle
• The learning triangle consists of three points:
1. The textbook
2. Each other
3. The lectures
• We learn from all three of these things to help us better understand the class and the
material that we are studying.
Social Movements: A Force to Change the World
• Try to look at the world as a social movement.
• This also involves looking at change in society.
• Social movements is a broad framework, however most significant changes in the past
50 years happened as social movements. • Some examples would be:
• Workers’ Rights Movement (Work condition, Child Labour, Minimum wage) (late 19
- This was the first and greatest social movement
• Women Rights Movement (Right to Vote 1919)
- The Women Rights Movement had many different lives. They would tackle certain
issues, and when they achieved their goal, they would settle down and then later on re-
emerge to tackle another issue.
• Civil Rights Movement (1960s) – March on Washington in 1963
• Gay Rights Movement (1980s)
• Green Movement (more recently)
• All of these movements, although all very different, ask for the same things: rights and
equality. Each of these movements work towards a more equal community with fair
• Collective Behavior: It is voluntary, often spontaneous activity that is engaged in by a
large number of people and typically violates dominant group norms and values,
however not always. Sometimes it is a reaction to something that took place and is not
• Some collective actions are “routine” and others are “non-routine”.
• Routine collective actions tend to be nonviolent and follow established patterns of
behaviour in bureaucratic social structures.
• Non-routine collective action tends to be short-lived and sometimes violent (mob, riot,
From Collective Action to Social Movements
• Most non-routine collective action requires social organization. There is some element of
social organization but not as much.
• Collective action can result in creation of one or more formal organizations or
bureaucracies to direct and further aims of its members.
• Institutionalization of protest signifies establishment of a social movement. This is how it
all starts. • For social movements to grow, members must make activities, goals, and ideology of
movement consistent with interests, beliefs, and values of potential recruits. The group
must show the desire to add new members and spread the word of their cause to get
• History of earliest social movements is struggle for acquisition of constantly broadening
citizenship rights and opposition to those struggles. There is always another group that
is actively or passively against the group.
Social Problems as Collective Behaviour
• Blumer (1971) maps out the career of social problems.
- How do topics or issues become social problems?
- Why does it now need to be addressed? Why was it not before?
- How do social problems emerge?
• Social problems are the result of collective definition.
- We as a population decide if it needs to be addressed.
1. The Emergence of Social Problems
2. Legitimation of Social Problems
3. Mobilization of Action
4. Formation of an Official Plan of Action
5. Implementation of the Official Plan
The History and Future of Social Movements: The Past 300 years
• Three centuries ago, social movements typically were small, localized, and violent. This
is because there were many people with problems, but they had no power and not
enough people engaged. This is what forced them to act out.
• Subsequent growth of the state led to changes in social movements, including:
• Growing in size (partly due to increased literacy, modes of communication, and new
densely populated social settings). Growing in state leads to change.
• Becoming less violent (size and organization often allowed movements to become
sufficiently powerful to get their way without frequently resorting to extreme measures).
Organization was key.
• There were four stages in efforts to expand rights of citizens:
1. Civil citizenship: 18 century-struggle for right to free speech, freedom of religion, and
justice before the law. - Others should not be put in jail for having their own opinions, religious beliefs etc.
- A push for equal rights.
2. Political citizenship: 19 /early 20 century struggle for right to vote and run for office.
3. Social citizenship: 20 century-struggle for right to certain level of economic security and
full participation in social life of country.
- Should not discriminate against gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, etc.
- It is a small safety net that says everyone should have, for example, a base level of
4. Universal citizenship: Last third of 20 century struggle to recognize right of marginal
groups to full citizenship and rights of humanity as a whole.
- Not just institutional, but refusing to allow discrimination in every place. Everyone has
the same opportunities.
- They should not be blocked by their membership in another group.
• A social movement is an organized activity that encourages or discourages social
• It is not just sitting around, agreeing with each other, and talking about the issues.
• At its heart, social movements are about an issue, big or small, and seeking to
encourage or discourage change in regards to this issue.
• It is a debate, usually one group on both sides of the issue. It is advocated around both
small issues and large issues (ex. Smoking, composting).
• Social movements are defined by the issues that people are interested in.
• Usually, the broader the issue, the bigger the social movement, the more defined the
issue, the smaller the social movement. The smaller it is, the more personal it usually is.
• Social movements are among the most important types of collective behavior because
they often have lasting effects on the shape of our society.
• Social movements are common in the modern world, but this was not always the case.
Pre-industrial societies are tightly bound by tradition, making social movements
extremely rare. We now however have more power, so there are more social
• Subcultures and countercultures feel out of the mainstream and often see things they
want to change. • In North America and Europe, significant public issues are likely to give rise to social
movements favouring change and to counter-movements resisting it (ex. gay rights
movement has won the right to same-sex marriage. In response, counter-movement has
Types of Social Movement
• Sociologists classify social movements according to several variables.
• Variable 1: Who is changed? Some movements target selected people, others try to
change everyone. Who is the target of change?
• Variable 2: How much change? Some movements seek only limited change in our
lives, and others pursue radical transformation of society. Change in our lives or
transformation of society?
• Combining these variables results in four types of social movements (Aberle 1966).
The Four Types of Social Movements
1. Alternative Social Movements (specific individuals, limited change)
• They are least threatening to the status quo because they seek limited change in only
some narrow segment of the population. (i.e. Planned Parenthood)
• It is easy to accept things when you do not have to make changes in your own life.
2. Redemptive Social Movements (specific individuals, radical change)
• They also have a selective focus, but they seek radical change in those they engage.
(i.e. Alcoholic Anonymous)
• Not one small thing but something that is more profound in human nature. It is a lifetime
3. Reformative Social Movements (everyone, limited change)
• They generally work within the existing political system, seek only limited social change
but encompass the entire society. They can be progressive (promoting a new social
pattern) or reactionary (counter-movements trying to preserve the status quo or to return
to past social patterns). (i.e. abortion and anti-abortion movement in Canada)
• They work in political systems and with laws. It has an impact on a huge segment of the
population. 4. Revolutionary Social Movements (everyone, radical change)
• They are the most extreme. They seek basic transformation of a society. Sometimes
pursuing specific goals, sometimes spinning utopian dreams, these social movements
reject existing social institutions as flawed while promoting radically new alternative (i.e.
the nationalist or sovereigntist movement in Quebec).
• They are looking to overthrow institutions or politics.
Social Movement Story
• Social Movements – What are they?
• Issues – Broad (big) vs. Specific (small)
• Types of Social Movement
• Claims Making
• Stages of Social Movement
Claims Making (very important for your term paper!!)
• In 1981, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention began to track a strange disease
that was killing people, most of them homosexual men.
• It was a deadly disease, but there was little public attention and few stories in the mass
• Only about five years later did the public become aware of the rising number of deaths
and begin to think