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Chapter 16

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SOC 103

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Chapter 16 Social Movements and Voluntary Associations Chapter Summary As this textbook has demonstrated, sociologists focus on the significance of group membership and its impact on the individual. While membership in some groups (race, gender, class, to name a few) is involuntary, this chapter examines the sociological significance of voluntary associations and social movements—groups, that for the most part, are comprised of members who have willingly chosen membership in the group. These groups provide benefits to both the individual members and to society as a whole. The chapter also demonstrates that despite that fact that individuals are free to join and leave voluntary associations, these groups contribute to social order. Group members are regulated by group norms, and these norms are enforced in a variety of ways, such as guilt, shame, gossip, rumour, and threatened rejection. In cases when voluntary associations adopt larger, societal goals, they become social movements. Sociological studies of the reasons why people join social movements vary according to theoretical perspective. The breakdown approach, relative deprivation theory, and systemic theory are associated with the functionalist perspective; accordingly, these theories emphasize disintegration, discontent, and frustration and how these threaten societal equilibrium. Critical theorists, on the other hand, note that social conflict is a natural feature of social life; indeed, social conflict is often the engine of social change. Critical theorists argue that social movements are organizations with rational goals and plans. These theorists also note the importance of the availability of resources to social movements, as well as the movement’s ability to propound its counter-ideology. Finally, some social movement theories reflect the influence of the symbolic interactionist approach. These approaches recognize the importance of members’ values and beliefs, recognizing that people react not only to social situations, but to their interpretation and evaluation of these situations. Learning Objectives In this chapter, you will • learn how participation in voluntary associations is useful both to the individual and to society; • consider the various theoretical perspectives on social forces that lead people to seek change and form social movements; and, • recognize how people make and preserve social order, despite differences, inequalities, conflicts, and constant change. 2 Key Terms counter-ideology: An ideology that supports alternative social values and challenges the dominant ideology. dominant ideology: An ideology that supports the status quo and the interests of the ruling class. ideology: A strategy, program, or point of view that justifies the goals and strategies of the movement: for example, it may justify demands for gender equality. social movements: Organized groups of people with an agenda or plan for social change, to be achieved through agitation and political pressure. voluntary association: A group formed by voluntary membership. Unlike other voluntary associations, social movements usually have a political goal. Recommended Readings Carroll, W. K. (ed.) (1997). Organizing Dissent: Contemporary Social Movements in Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. Toronto: Garamond. This is a collection of leading articles and essays on social movements in North America. It is useful in that it applies theory to real-life examples, and shows the value of theoretical approaches when analyzing collective action. della Porta, D., Andretta, M., Mosca, L., & Reiter, H. (2006). Globalization from Below: Transnational Activists and Protest Networks. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. This work analyzes the perspective on global social movements from below: that is, from the points of view of activists, organizers, and demonstrators. MacKay, C. (1969 [1841]). Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Wells, VT: Fraser Publishing Company. This classic history of popular folly in collective action was published over 150 years ago. Nevertheless, its insight into what happens when people merge into crowds remains relevant in our society today. MacKay, a well-known figure in his time, covered many different disciplines and topics. 3 Meyer, D. S., Jenness, V., & Ingram, H. (eds) (2005). Routing the Opposition: Social Movements, Public Policy, and Democracy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Covering various topics, the authors discuss how the states and social movements intertwine and meet on issues such as public policy, social institutions and the people who make them up, and society as a whole. Parsons, T. (1949). The Structure of Social Action: A Study in Social Theory with Special Reference to a Group of Recent European Writers, 2nd ed. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. This is a classic sociological work and the first major book by this author. It draws on the work of founding sociologists and develops a systematic theory of how and why people act collectively. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster. Putman argues that American civil society is breaking down, that people are less connected to their families, communities, and societies. He uses ‘bowling alone’ as a metaphor for our increasing individualization. Scott, J. (ed.) (2007). Fifty Key Sociologists: The Formative Theorists. London: Routledge. Scott, J. (ed.) (2007). Fifty Key Sociologists: The Contemporary Theorists. London: Routledge. These two books, one of which covers classical sociologists and the other contemporary ones, offer invaluable information about key sociologists over the last two centuries. Smith, M. (1999). Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada: Social Movements and Equality-Seeking, 1971–1995. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Smith’s work analyzes the trends in social movement activity by Canadian gays and lesbians over the last few decades. The author highlights the importance of social policies, counter- ideologies, organizational strategies, and other factors that influenced how these movements have operated. Recommended Websites Canada’s Rights Movement: A History www.historyofrights.com/introduction.html 4 Global Solidarity Dialogue www.antenna.nl/~waterman/dialogue.html Free the Children www.freethechildren.com Canadian Labour Congress/Congrès du travail du Canada (CLC/CTC) www.canadianlabour.ca Greenpeace International www.greenpeace.org Greenpeace Canada www.greenpeace.org/canada Voice of Women (VOW) http://home.ca.inter.net/~vow/ Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA) www.clga.ca/archives Assembly of First Nations/Assemblée des Premières Nations (AFN/APN) www.afn.ca Multiple Choice Questions 1. A voluntary association becomes a social movement when its goals become a) social. b) political. c) humanitarian. d) all of the above 2. Organized groups of people with agendas or plans for social change to be achieved through agitation and political pressure are known as a) revolutionary movements. b) voluntary associations. c) social movements. d) lobby groups. 5 3. As stated in the text, one of the fundamental features of social life is a) interdependence. b) cohesion. c) independence. d) social support. 4. The most striking feature of cyberspace is its a) universality. b) technological sophistication. c) availability. d) diversity. 5. In Stanley Milgram’s ‘small world’ study, he found that the target people received the letters, with, on average, __________ subjects passing them on. a) two b) four c) six d) twelve 6. Ron Burt refers to individuals with very large and diverse networks who link some individuals to others as a) nodes b) brokers c) network stars d) movers and shakers 7. Which of the following statements regarding Tamotsu Shibutani’s work on rumours is not true? a) Rumours are always inaccurate and distorted. b) Rumours provide a basis of sociability among people. c) Rumour formation is a problem-solving strategy. d) Rumours collaboratively gain accuracy and provide social order. 8. Which of the following is an example of a voluntary association? 6 a) charitable group b) support group c) fraternity d) all of the above 9. Which of the following statements is a feature of play, according to John Huizinga? a) It is free. b) It is a departure from ordinary or real life. c) Every society has play. d) all of the above 10. Which of the following statements about voluntary associations is not true? a) They provide sociability. b) They bring together a diverse group of people for a common cause. c) They have a somewhat unpredictable effect on social tolerance. d) none of the above 11. __________ is defined as control by society or social relations. a) Political control b) Social control c) Formal control d) Legal control 12. Which of the following is an example of a process involving informal social control? a) rewarding wanted behaviour b) withholding rewards for unwanted behaviour c) both a and b d) all of the above 13. According to Norbert Elias’s The Civilizing Proces
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