Characteristics of Social Movements | Social movement success factors

Characteristics of Social Movements


Social movements are universal in nature. Social movements shape the state and its function, accountability, and responsibility. In contemporary times social movements are seen in all states. 

The term social movement is used to correspond to different meanings. There are no universally accepted definitions of the social movement. Some social scientists use this term to identify a set of activities undertaken by one or many organizations to bring change in society. 

Some use these to represent historical Changes like modernizations urbanizations etc. 


Origin of social movement: 


The term social movement can be traced back to the late 18th century when Western society involved in social economic and political upliftment. 

Definition of social movement: 


1) According to Lorenz Von Stein, social movements are dynamic forces in society that emerge against the state. 

2) According to Andre Gunder Frank, there is a distinction between Political movement and social movement. Social Movement does not strive for State Power. It seeks more autonomy, not state power. 

According to him, the objective of social movement is social transformation. The participant mobilizes for Social Justice. Meaning Of social movement: 

Social movements are a form of collective action that emerges as a response to inequality, injustice, oppression, and socio-economic culture and political demand. 

Factors that led to the emergence of social movement: 

  1. Process of democratization Spread of education 
  2. Conservations of industrialization 
  3. Increase advancement of ICT 
  4. The emergence of free press and NGOs 

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Characteristics of social movements –

  1. They are commonly utilized by political outsiders. Individuals who already have political power don’t have to take part in social developments.
  2. They are commonly grassroots in starting point. Social movements generally start from the bottom up, not from the top down.
  3. They tend to utilize unconventional strategies. 
  4. They are comprised of individuals who have a mutual feeling of complaint. Individuals who join such a movement must feel emphatically that they are being abused.
  5. Collective action 
  6. Directed towards socio-economic and political change. 


Constitutional and non-constitutional nature of social movement: 


Social movements follow constitutional as well as non-constitutional path. Non-constitutional Path is also known as direct action against the state that aimed at some political change. 

Constitutional action refers to the action that is legally permitted and widely accepted as the part of a society at a given part of the time. South action includes petitioning, voting in the election, fighting a legal battle in the court, etc. 

The line between these two is very thin. Non-constitutional action can take several from such as protest, agitation, strike riot, etc. 


Social movement success factors: 


1) Capable and strategically oriented leadership: 


Leader plays a significant role in expressions of ideology and in preparing strategies for action. Social Movement involves mobilization of people which is done by the leader 


2) An organizational structure: 


Social movements require organizations that can adapt centralized or decentralized decisions making system 

3) Long term objective: 


Social Movements give priority to certain programs over others and focus on a particular path of action that involves a set of ideas, propositions, and values that enable to perceive social relation, to form ideology for collective action and to achieve a collective goal.

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