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Portal:Social movements

Social movements

A social movement is a type of group action. Social movements can be defined as "organizational structures and strategies that may empower oppressed populations to mount effective challenges and resist the more powerful and advantaged elites". They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist, or undo a social change. They provide a way of social change from the bottom within nations.

Modern Western social movements became possible through education (the wider dissemination of literature) and increased mobility of labor due to the industrialization and urbanization of 19th-century societies. It is sometimes argued that the freedom of expression, education and relative economic independence prevalent in the modern Western culture are responsible for the unprecedented number and scope of various contemporary social movements. However, others point out that many of the social movements of the last hundred years grew up, like the Mau Mau in Kenya, to oppose Western colonialism. Either way, social movements have been and continued to be closely connected with democratic political systems. Occasionally, social movements have been involved in democratizing nations, but more often they have flourished after democratization. Over the past 200 years, they have become part of a popular and global expression of dissent.

Modern movements often utilize technology and the internet to mobilize people globally. Adapting to communication trends is a common theme among successful movements. Research is beginning to explore how advocacy organizations linked to social movements in the U.S. and Canada use social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action. The systematic literature review of Buettner & Buettner analyzed the role of Twitter during a wide range of social movements (2007 WikiLeaks, 2009 Moldova, 2009 Austria student protest, 2009 Israel-Gaza, 2009 Iran green revolution, 2009 Toronto G20, 2010 Venezuela, 2010 Germany Stuttgart21, 2011 Egypt, 2011 England, 2011 US Occupy movement, 2011 Spain Indignados, 2011 Greece Aganaktismenoi movements, 2011 Italy, 2011 Wisconsin labor protests, 2012 Israel Hamas, 2013 Brazil Vinegar, 2013 Turkey).

Political science and sociology have developed a variety of theories and empirical research on social movements. For example, some research in political science highlights the relation between popular movements and the formation of new political parties as well as discussing the function of social movements in relation to agenda setting and influence on politics.

Selected article

Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu National Park

Nuclear testing, uranium mining and export, and nuclear energy have often been the subject of public debate in Australia, and the anti-nuclear movement in Australia has a long history. Its origins date back to the 1972–73 debate over French nuclear testing in the Pacific and the 1976–77 debate about uranium mining in Australia.

Several groups specifically concerned with nuclear issues were established in the mid-1970s, including the Movement Against Uranium Mining and Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE), cooperating with other environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation. But by the late 1980s, the price of uranium had fallen, and the costs of nuclear power had risen, and the anti-nuclear movement seemed to have won its case. CANE disbanded itself in 1988.

About 2003, proponents of nuclear power advocated it as a solution to global warming and the Australian government began taking an interest. Anti-nuclear campaigners and some scientists in Australia emphasised that nuclear power could not significantly substitute for other power sources, and that uranium mining itself could become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

As of 2010, Australia has no nuclear power stations and the current Gillard Labor government is opposed to nuclear power for Australia.Australia has three operating uranium mines at Olympic Dam (Roxby) and Beverley - both in South Australia's north - and at Ranger in the Northern Territory. As of April 2009, construction has begun on South Australia's third uranium mine—the Honeymoon Uranium Mine. Australia has no nuclear weapons.

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Selected biography

Charles Tilly (1929 - 2008) was an American sociologist, political scientist, and historian who wrote books on the relationship between politics and society.

Tilly defines social movements as a series of contentious performances, displays and campaigns by which ordinary people made collective claims on others . For Tilly, social movements are a major vehicle for ordinary people's participation in public politics. He argues that there are three major elements to a social movement:

  1. Campaigns: a sustained, organized public effort making collective claims of target authorities;
  2. Repertoire: employment of combinations from among the following forms of political action: creation of special-purpose associations and coalitions, public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, rallies, demonstrations, petition drives, statements to and in public media, and pamphleteering; and
  3. WUNC displays: participants' concerted public representation of worthiness, unity, numbers, and commitments on the part of themselves and/or their constituencies.

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Direct Action and Democracy Today is a 2005 book by April Carter. In the book, Carter debates the nature and meaning of social and political protest and discusses the relationship between direct action and people's claims for greater democratic control, not only against repressive regimes but also in liberal parliamentary states.

Carter is clearly supportive of direct action, but her analysis is based on logic and evidence rather than advocacy. Her assessments suggest that theorists have not been paying enough attention to the challenge posed by direct action, a challenge to both systems of power and the ideas that legitimate them.

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