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SOCI 1002
Christian Carron

Sociology of social movements Definition of social movements - Social movement is an organized activity that encourages or discourages social change* - Social movements are collective attempts to change all or part of the political or social order by means of rioting, petitioning, striking, demonstrating and establishing pressure groups, unions, and political parties* - At its heart, social movements are about an issue, big or small, and seeking to encourage or discourage change in regards to this issue - Usually: • The broader the issue, the bigger the social movement • The more defined the issue, the smaller the social movement - Social movements are among the most important types of collective behavior because they often have lasting effects on the shape of our society 4 types of social movements (alternative, redemptive, reformative, and revolutionary) 1. Specific individuals, limited change • Alternative social movements: 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) 2. Specific individuals, radical change • Redemptive social movements: They also have a selective focus, but they seek radical change in those they engage (i.e.:AlcoholicAnonymousAAA) 3. Everyone, limited change • Reformative social movements: they generally work within the political system, seek only limited social change but encompass the entire society. • They can be progressive (promoting a new social pattern) or reactionary (countermovements trying to preserve the status quo or to return to past social patterns) • Ex:Abortion and anti-abortion movement in Canada 4. Everyone, radical change • Revolutionary social movements: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 • Ex: the nationalist or sovereigntist movement in Quebec Claims making and frame alignment - Claims making is the process of trying to convince the public and public officials of the importance of joining a social movement to address a particular issue - In other words, for a social movement to form, some issue has to be defined as a problem that demands public attention - Frame alignment:About recruitment of a new members or gaining support from a wider public - Frame alignment is the process by which individual interests, beliefs, and values become congruent and complementary with the activities, goals, and ideology of a social movement - Frame alignment can be encouraged in several ways including: 1. Reaching out to other organizations believed to contain people sympathetic to their movement’s cause 2. Stressing popular values in common with movement Explanations of social movements (many different about why they occur, why they are organized how they are, etc…) - Because social movements are intentional and long-lasting, sociologists find this type of collective behavior easier to explain than brief episodes of mob behavior or mass hysteria. Several theories to explain social movements have gained importance - Deprivation Theory, Mass Society Theory, Structural Strain Theo
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