11.20 Lecture - Social Protest (What).docx

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SOC 148
Rob Beamish

Social Protest 11/20/2013 Political acts reflect power differences The very wealthiest people do not riot (they have absolutely no need to riot) People who are further down the socioeconomic scale (they’re not the leaders of society – not necessarily that they’re poor, but they’re not in power either) What is social protest? = an attempt by a collective through public demonstration to change the formal institutional structures of a society to their benefit… Importantly, social protest is extra-institutional politics Extra-institutional : not doing it within the systems, but they’re not actually pursuing this necessary through formal channels, in formal legal ways` Institutional structures meaning laws, policies Protest is a last resort, because their views are not supported through formal institutional mechanisms Protest rarely succeeds. When protest does succeed, it’s typically highly modified from its original form. (the claims they agreed to, the shape that the success takes is often almost unrecognizable from what they idealistically desired to achieve) Protest activity almost w/out fail leads to more protest activity. Once it starts it doesn’t turn back very easily. Collective Episode ‘Continuum’ – REFER TO POWER POINT SLIDES FOR VISUAL IF they go too fast toward change, they’re going to get rejected (seen as revolutionary) If they don’t go far enough against convention, there will be no change Pressure to find a middle-ground Rosa Parks had an impeccable biography so when she did it – they said, this is the one, we’re going to start the movement Linked to a larger movement that has been coming out As the civil rights era ended, the social protest movement for civil rights HAS NOT ended! Many rights are using the same lever points (same shape in different forms) – LGBT, gender, race, ethnicity We’re really big on fair unfair, rather than social hierarchy Social Protest – the WHAT Let’s look more closely at the dimensions that distinguish social protest: 1. Degree of Spontaneity: Unlike the other collective episodes that have been our focus, the level of spontaneity involved in Social Protest and Social Protest Movement is typically lower; they require some degree of pre-planning, organization, and participant coordination… of course, when It’s planned, there’s a higher level of strategy, organization spontaneity has to do w/ what can and will be said/ not said 2. Form of Expression: Social Protests generally use known symbols, target known institutions, and rely on formal communication channels such as the mass media to get heir message out and promote social change… you want people out there to know, or else your protest is ineffective you use symbols that need to mean something to people if people don’t recognize your symbols, it’s ineffective ex: holding an American flag and holding a red, white, and blue sign that says “No Iraq War” other things that are culturally recognized: bargain w/ political opponents, have a platform (have a list of things they require – have a really well-founded reason), have a petition (can’t dismiss us as peripheral/ ignorable), do things like sit-ins, chants, blockades – the art of protest, because that makes you recognizable to people who aren’t protesting that there IS a protest going on! Barricades were invented as protest tools Sit-downs were invented during labor strikes (assembly lines- you just had to control part of it for it to make a difference) 3. Time Frame: (time/duration of the event): While a crowd action can be minutes or hours or perhaps days, Social Protest Movements can extend into years, decades, and beyond! Religion was the first reason for social movements (value-oriented) – last for centuries! Or thousands of years.. 4. Scope: Local protests tend to be shorter in duration, involve fewer persons, less planning, and less resources. Extra-local protest requires more strategy, greater leadership, more resources, and political connections… very centralized, very immediate and very spread out time and space is tough to organize – takes more planning What we’ve discussed before covers WHAT, not WHY…. Bolded questions are the ones answered in this lecture*** 1. Who participates in social protest and why? 2. What role do attitudes play in social protest? 3. What role does availability play in social protest participation? 4. What ultimately predicts social protest? 5. What predicts success and/or failure of social protests? Social Protest and Mass Psychology In seeking to answer the when, who, and why, Collective Behaviorists have developed a handful of theories to explain and predict social protest, including: 1. Parental conflicts theory: Feuer theorized that Social Protest movements reflect people working out their grievances w/ authority—especially boys to their fathers—and that t
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