The combined efforts of people have brought about a significant number of revolutionary transformations in the world. Changes on a global scale have been greatly influenced by social movements. They are a sign of the presence of democracy in society and exert pressure on political institutions to act in the best interests of the people. Social movements can occur on a local, state, national, or international level and go through several stages.
The main characteristic of a social movements is the existence of a shared objective that many people work toward. To offer an example, the objective can be to prevent change or to bring about change. The BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico sparked a number of social groups that called for cleanup efforts and repair for damage caused by the oil spill. Social movements typically start as a result of a flaw or systemic failure.
Depending on how much and what change the social movements aim to make, they are divided into various categories.
Types of Social Movements
Alternative Social Movement
This social movement seeks to change individual beliefs and behavior in relation to an issue. It is focused on a certain specific aspect of how society functions. An example is the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) movement, which targets the behavior of drunk driving and the movement has led to many drunk driving laws being enacted. •
Redemptive Social Movement
Redemptive social movements aim to completely transform a person’s life. They are typically religious in nature and concentrated on bringing about a complete transformation. They want to fundamentally transform someone’s life. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christians, and Baptists are a few examples of religious movements.
Reformative Social Movement
They aim to change a certain part of the social order. Reformative social movements aim for the entire people, in contrast to alternative and redemptive movements. They concentrate on making modest changes that have a larger impact. They want to alter the current system. The Women’s Suffrage Movement is one illustration. Examples of reformative social movements include those promoting voting rights, women’s rights, and environmental protection.
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Transformative Social Movement
Revolutions that aim to bring about a comprehensive societal transformation are considered transformative movements. They are referred to as revolutionary movements because they seek to radically change society. They either seek to overthrow the current system or bring about a complete change in it. The civil rights movement and the Bolshevik movement in Russia are two examples of transformative social movements.
Stages of Social Movements
This is the social movement’s emerging stage. People are only starting to become aware of the problem at this point, and it is already evident that they are unhappy with the way things are. Large-scale campaigns and revolutions are sparked by a common dissatisfaction with a political and social situation. At this point, people discuss their complaints with their family and friends and in the local media, but nothing is organized or communal. This is the emerging stage or setup stage. The early-stage discontent among African-American people due to racial segregation was the preliminary stage of the Civil Rights Movement.
This stage is characterized by a more defined discontent among the masses. People gain clarity about what the issue is and who is responsible for the discontent they feel. Mass agitation and campaigns are distinctive to this phase. Protests and resistance to the system happen during the coalescing stage. The movement becomes a lot more organized. An action plan is drawn out, people join hands, leaders come out and the foundation of the social movement is set. At this point, the movement is no more random or coincidental, things are well laid and people are aware of how things are and how they would want them to be. This stage of the Civil Rights movement was marked by protests and boycotts such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
At this stage, the movement is fully organized. It includes a large number of people who strive to achieve the same goal. People from different places, races, and geography who have similar grievances find a common voice. People have a proper strategy for how to go about bringing change. They have hired staff to assist them in the movement. At this stage, the movement is not more on a foundation level but it has moved to a more organized and grand level. This is the stage where people collectively work towards bringing change. The movement is most lively and intense at this stage.
The campaigns have become more subdued at this point. This stage may signal the end of a social movement because things are not as intense as they are in the previous three stages. It can be because the objective for which all the efforts were made has been attained or because the wishes of the people have not been fulfilled despite their persistent efforts. People give up hope and switch their allegiance to other causes.