social movement

(redirected from Social movements)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

social movement

any broad social alliance of people who are associated in seeking to effect or to block an aspect of SOCIAL CHANGE within a society. Unlike POLITICAL PARTIES or some more highly organized interest or PRESSURE GROUPS, such movements may be only informally organized, although they may have links with political parties and more institutionalized groups, and in time they may lead to the formation of political parties.

Four distinct areas in which social movements operate in modern societies have been identified by GIDDENS (1985):

  1. democratic movements, concerned with establishing or maintaining political rights;
  2. labour movements, concerned with defensive control of the workplace and with contesting and transforming the more general distribution of economic power;
  3. ecological movements, concerned to limit the environmental and social damage resulting from transformation of the natural world by social action;
  4. peace movements, concerned with challenging the pervasive influence of military power and aggressive forms of nationalism.

Other social movements of importance in recent decades include women's movements and consumer movements. Although in part these types of social movement may act in complementary ways in modern societies, they may also be in conflict, e.g. a demand for work in conflict with ecological considerations. Such movements have also tended to generate contrary social movements concerned to oppose them, including conservative nationalist movements and movements aimed at blocking or reversing moral reforms.

Research on social movements, like research on political parties and interest groups generally, has focused on the social and psychological characteristics of those attracted to participate, the relations between leaders and led, and the social and political outcomes of such activity. One thing is clear: social movements are a fluid element within political and social systems, from which more formal political organizations arise and which may bring radical change. See also URBAN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOUR, ANOMIE, REVOLUTION, FASCISM, PEACE MOVEMENT.

References in periodicals archive ?
For this programme, they are looking for social movements that aim to improve health or care, for example by:
In another connection, he denounced all the attempts and acts of looting and vandalism that had occurred in the past days, highlighting the need to give importance to social movements so that they do not drift towards acts of violence.
The book is published at a time of heightened interest in the role of citizens in social movements and the effect of increased participation by citizens through social media and other new communication technology in democratic decision-making.
Part II explores social movements in Africa and the Middle East, with the Arab uprisings and 2009 Iranian presidential election protests serving as backdrops to these analyses.
Critique: An impressive body of seminal and original scholarship, "What Democracy Looks Like: The Rhetoric of Social Movements and Counterpublics" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Rhetoric, Communication Studies, and Social Science reference collections and supplemental studies lists.
It is my conviction that scholars of the newest social movements do not go far enough by simply reporting on the ongoings of a given social movement at the level of the enunciated.
As I pondered these questions, I became immersed in the literature critically but constructively engaging with traditional approaches to social movement theory and research (Bevington and Dixon 2005; Flacks 2004).
Resource Extraction and Protest in Peru opens up the social movement literature on environmental struggles by directly connecting such forms of resistance to neoliberalism.
Unlike social movements in the past, she argues, today's fast-forming, fast-dissolving movements are liable to "tactical freeze," in which they fail to develop the internal deliberative capacity to shift tactics in response to changing circumstances.
New social movements left their mark in the pursuit of expansive, new collective identities, autonomy, principles of solidarity and the perpetual search for the optimal blend of the spontaneous potential of the masses and organised socially oriented political actions (Pavlovic 1987, pp.
The first chapter, "Knowledge Production, Learning, and Education in Social Movement Activism," begins by directly stating that the future is influenced through present and past struggles, by the choices made and theories that are developed by individuals or collectives, by "ordinary" people and so-called "experts." The author makes clear that social movements can fail in the absence of theory that explains economic conditions and power struggles.