Social movements | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy

Social movements | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy

Voiceover: Social
movements are instrumental to changing the path of a society. When a group of people comes together with a shared idea, they can create lasting effects by encouraging change in their society or by resisting it, both of which will shape the future of their society. But a social movement is not just a group of people with an idea. If that were the case, every little group with a novel idea would be starting a social movement. No, social movements need organization, leadership, and resources if they ever hope to gain momentum and make an impact. There are different
types of social movements depending on their goal. Activist movements are focused on changing some aspect of society, while regressive or reactionary movements are actively trying to resist change. So, you can generally see how a social movement will form. You get a group with a strong, shared idea that has the resources
and leadership to survive and they can make a difference in one way or another. Specifically though,
it is not well defined. There are several
theories as to how and why social movements form. One of these is called
mass society theory. Early in the study of social movements people were sceptical of the motivations of those involved in social movements. They were seen as dysfunctional, irrational, and dangerous, and that people would only join because the social movement provided a sense of community and refuge from the meaninglessness of life on one zone. This view point was strong during the 20th century, the time of Nazism, fascism, and Stalinism,
which were social movements that result in the destruction of millions of lives. But this theory did not persist through the century. By the ’60’s, scholars
took a more open look at social movements, especially after the
civil rights movement, which certainly did not arise simply to satisfy a psychological
need for involvement. More recently, a few main theories have been developed. One is the relative deprivation theory, which focuses on the actions of groups who are oppressed or deprived of rights that other people in their society enjoy. So, if you look at the
civil rights movement from this viewpoint, it is obviously a response to the inequality and oppression experienced by people of color in the U.S. But what is interesting
about social movements is that it isn’t always the people who are the worst off who join up. More important is how people perceive their situation. Someone just scraping by
can be happy as a clam because they made their dream of owning their own little corner bistro into a reality and then a person making 100,000 a year is frustrated because they don’t feel like they’re respected by their company. So, what you have to look at is the relative deprivation, the feeling of discrepancy between legitimate expectations and the reality of the present. But, that’s not enough on its own. People must feel like they deserve better and they must think that they cannot be helped my conventional means. According to relative deprivation theory those three things are necessary for a social movement to form, a relative deprivation, a feeling of deserving better, and to believe that conventional methods are useless to help. But there are criticisms to this theory. Even people who don’t feel deprived will chose to join a social movement. They join because they want to address a perceived injustice that they may not even suffer from themselves. It can be too risky for the most oppressed people to join a social movement because they may not have the resources to participate, they cannot take time off work to promote the idea. Even so, there are exceptions, as always. Under Cesar Chavez,
migrant farm workers united to gain rights and job security. Another issue with the
relative deprivation theory is that sometimes, even
when all three factors are present, no social
movement is created. OK so, it has some problems but it’s a start at least. Another theory, resource
mobilization theory, looks at the social movements from a different angle. Instead of looking at the
deprivation of the people, the resource mobilization approach focuses on the factors that help or hinder a social movement. You know, practical constraints like access to resources. Even the seemingly simple act of gathering together a group of
people with a shared idea is not allowed everywhere. It takes more than an idea to start a social movement. You need money, materials,
political influence, access to media. More than that, a social movement needs a strong organizational base to recruit members and then to unite them on a single idea. A good, charismatic figure is necessary to lead the group and focus the thoughts of members and the
oppressed on the objective, to convince them to organize. Again, looking at the
civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. stood as a beacon to the people of color who were oppressed. He knew how to speak to a crowd and unite them in a single idea and how to gain the support he needed for the social movement to succeed. Then you have the rational choice theory which proposes that people compare pros and cons of different
courses of action and chose the one that they think is best for themselves. The choices and the actions of individuals who are trying to do
the best for themselves shape the pattern of behavior in society. But there are a lot of assumptions for rational choice theory to work. You have to assume that all actions can be listed in order of preference and that all preferences are transient. That means that let’s say I like apples better than pears and I like pears better than bananas. If that’s transient then that means I have to like apples better than bananas. It also assumes that a
person has full knowledge of what will happen as
a result of an action and that a person has
the cognitive ability to weigh different actions. These are a lot of assumptions, which are rarely all true. Social movements can even affect people not actively involved in them. Social movements can cause collective behavior like panics, where widespread, unreasoning fear causes people to act hastily, and crazes, which are like fads where something gets incredibly popular for a short period of time, like the latest craze in music or dieting. This past year the anti-vaccine movement has created a panic that has resulted in outbreaks of diseases
that were once eradicated from the developed world. Now that we have a couple movements to toss around, it might be interesting to look at what happens to a social
movement from beginning to either success or failure in the end. In the beginning, the
universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely
regarded as a bad move. Wait a minute. Sorry, that’s the wrong story. Social movements, right. Those begin with a few ideas shared by a few. Then, you have the incipient stage when the public begins to take notice of a situation that they consider to be a problem. At this point, people begin to organize, to coalesce into an organized group and raise up a general stink. A social movement’s greatest achievement will be to either succeed in changing its host society, or else it will have to adapt. What is interesting about social movements is that in the end, they become a part of the bureaucracy they were trying to change. A successful social movement eventually gets absorbed into the
existing institutions when it has achieved its desired changes. Our entire culture and society is formed from past social movements, both those that have succeeded and those that have failed. Even failure social movements leave a mark on their society. The social movement Martin Luther began against the Catholic church resulted in Protestantism. His name sake, Martin Luther King Jr., fronted a social movement
against segregation, leading to the civil rights movement. Even Nazism left its lasting
mark on world politics. In their time, each of
these social movements seemed radical, far fetched, extreme. Now, we accept Protestantism as a founded religion and we don’t think twice about the right every person has
to freedom and equality. I wonder what social movements of today will become accepted
thought in the future? So, in the end, the social
movement eventually declines. If it succeeded, it has been incorporated into the dominant culture. It if failed, it isn’t active anymore, but you can still see the marks it left on society by its passing.


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    Ahhh that was bugging me so much. I didn't catch the reference until I read the comments. Listened to that part like 4 times and gave up. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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    Edward Snowden

    How do structural factors like social networks and cultural factors like emotions and meanings work together to create social movements?

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    Veronica Zaharia

    On February 25, 2018 in the Coordination Center of ALLATRA International Public Movement, a meeting of the Movement participants from all around the world took place. Interview with Igor Mikhailovich Danilov at the ALLATRA Coordination Center.

    On February 25, the coordination center of ALLATRA IPM was visited by more than a thousand people of different faiths, nationalities and ages. Peoples’ testimonials about the essence of the universal spiritual Grain of all religions, their understanding, discovery, and inspiration, their spiritual path, friendship and unification into one big human family. For all people of good will, God is One indeed, regardless of religion. And one is the language of people’s communication β€” it is the language of spiritual Love, deep inner feelings, where there is no room for division from consciousness. What unites people regardless of age, place of residence, nationality, religion, and social status? Interviews with people from different countries and different continents.

    People exchanged practical experience, ideas, inspiration and all found a common language on the basis of primordial Knowledge, a universal grain – ALLATRA.

    Official website of ALLATRA International Public Movement :

    Official website of ALLATRA TV – International Volunteer TV:

    Email: [email protected]

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    Auntie Jane

    can you HELP me out? i'm studying intentional communities for my thesis, which are communities intentionally formed to ameliorate perceived problems in society. do you think it can be framed as a social movement? i don't know which theory suits best, because it's not about the protest or promoting change in social order/institutions, values and organization… they just try to build an alternative to what exists…

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