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Social Movements

Social Movements

Author: Paul Hannan

Differentiate between the four types of social movements. 

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology, Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on social movements. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, or even fast forward to make sure you get the most out of this tutorial.

So today, we're looking at social movements. Now at their core, social movement is just when a group of people get together to effect change. So we're going to look at in a way that actually breaks down how you can look at social movements into four basic categories, four different types of social movements.

As you look at this before we actually get through the different types, let me explain to you what my graphics here look like on the screen.

So on the top there, you have amount of change. So you have that individual on the upper left hand corner. And so if that individual is barely changing. It's going to be over there. And if you're changing a lot, it's going to be on the far right.

Now on the up and down side there, we have who changes. So again, we have the individual at the top. And at the top, only one person is changing, or a small group of people. And as we go down, it's going to affect a large group of people, many, many people. The majority of society are going to be changing.

So the first thing we're looking at is alternative. So in an alternative social movement, what's happening is we have a very small amount of change happening to a relatively small amount of people. A great example of this would be something like the D.A.R.E. movement.

D.A.R.E. is this movement that tries to keep kids off drugs. And it's not to say that that movement isn't important, but it's really affecting a small amount of people and it's a small amount of change. They're not attacking the societal issues of drug abuse and the criminalization of drugs. Instead, they're just looking at keeping kids off drugs. So again, a small change for a small amount of people.

Now, alternative movements, you could say they affect the status quo the least, because they have a small amount of change and they affect a small amount of people.

Now, another type of social movement is redemptive. So in a redemptive movement, what's happening is you're having a relatively small amount people changing, but there's a really, really large change for those people changing.

I think the best example of redemptive social movements are the Born Again movements for Christianity, or for any religious organization. And in those movements, what's happening is you have a small group of people who are totally changing the way their life is.

If you're someone who is a non-practicing Jew who then becomes Orthodox, you're joining this movement. And the amount of change that you personally are doing are a lot. You're really strictly adhering to the rules of Judaism. But it's not really affecting a large number of people. It's just affecting those people that choose to be born again, or choose to move into orthodox religions. Again, it's a small group of people with a large amount of change.

Now, reformative is a different type of social movement. And this is where we're getting into a large number of people being affected by the social movement, but the amount of change is not very much. When we look at the environmental movement currently, this is really where we're at as a nation, as a world, really, to address environmental issues.

This movement is asking for a little bit of change from everyone. So it's asking everyone to recycle. It's asking everyone to try to ride their bike more. So again, it's affecting many, many people, but the amount of change is small. We're not all being forced to never drive again. Cars haven't been banned. Meat products haven't been banned because they actually produce more CO2-- that process produces more CO2 than driving does. So reformative is, again, a small amount of change, but for a big group of people.

Now, the last section here is revolutionary. Now, a revolutionary change affects a large number of people, and it's a big amount of change. Revolutionary movements often have to totally upend society to have them work. That's why they're called revolutionary.

I think the best example of a revolutionary movement is the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States of America. It was a large amount of change for a large amount of people. So the Civil Rights Movement is eliminating a lot of the injustices that are coming out of racism, and we have segregation ending and African-Americans getting the right to vote, and all these other freedoms that are allowing African-Americans the same freedoms as other Americans. I think that's a revolutionary change. It's a large amount of change for a large amount of people.

Now, some sociologists might argue it's actually not necessarily revolutionary, because it's not really affecting everyone. They might say, well, it's really not that big a group of people that it's affecting. It's really changing-- it could be redemptive, because it's making a large change for a smaller number of people, a large change for the African-Americans, but not really affecting much of the rest of society.

Or you might have some sociologist argue that it's reformative. So it's a small amount of change, because it's not really affecting everybody's lives that much, but it's happening to everyone. Of course, I'm putting it in the revolutionary camp, as I said in the beginning here, because I think it's a large amount of change for everyone. Whether or not you're African-American, African-Americans having equal rights and opportunities affects all of society, and I would say we're all much better off because of this revolutionary social movement.

So today's take away message. We just looked at four different ways you can categorize social movements. Alternative is a small group of people with a small change. Redemptive is a big change with a small group of people. Reformative is a small change for a big group of people, and revolutionary is a big change for a big group of people.

Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work, and hopefully you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know
Alternative Social Movement

A social movement aimed at small change for a small number of people (i.e. Mother's Against Drunk Driving, or MADD).

Redemptive Social Movement

A social movement aimed at big change in a small number of people (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous).

Reformative Social Movement

A social movement aimed at small changes for a large number of people, or for society as a whole (i.e. the environmental movement).

Revolutionary Social Movement

A social movement aimed at big changes for everyone in society (i.e. a socialist revolution.)