Every morning, people read newspapers through TV, laptops or smart phones, listen to the radio or watch the news. Every single day, people in the world encounter or see many issues such as political issues or societal problems. It means that our society has been continuously changing all around the world. Every social rule, law, and the moral standard have changed and adapted according to the current times and needs. Look at any history textbook. We can see many revolutions, riots, and fights against unjust rules. All those actions people in the past have taken can be regarded as social movements.
According to the sociology organization, a social movement is an action taken by a group of people to achieve their goal or issue. It can be taken by a collective group of people or a large group of people. At some point in the past, those social movements were considered illicit or illegal behaviors in a way. However, all those constant efforts and movements lead to a better society for all. What if people in the past just follow the unjust rules and laws?. Or what if people did not gather and argue their rights or issues? I strongly believe that there is no development in any society in the world. Let me bring the example occurred in the United States. Legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage are a typical example in the United States. In the past, the law banning on the usage of marijuana was made and enacted for all people and society to maintain justice and peace. So, all people are responsible for observing it.
However, some people have realized or been aware of the fact that the laws are sometimes proposed by a particular group, class or people for their benefits. Thus, people who have the same idea have gathered together, show and bring up their opinion to other publics or politicians. They try to disseminate their idea to others and government or often protest on a street to accomplish their goals. All their efforts, ten states in the United States, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington allow people to purchase the drug. In this case, this social movement brings some positive impacts in the society. The patients who truly need the drug for medical issues can purchase it. Also, we can expect some economical advantages from sales taxes. Not always social movement brings positive results. Still, some people abuse marijuana as the recreational drug.
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In modern time, so many diverse people on the earth have owned their identity, belief, value, or opinion on every single issue. Besides, people are more aware of that they have a right to exercise it. As a result, we often see disagreements, a clash of opinions, or conflict of views on any single topic. So it creates more social movements on a various problems or issues, and these movements make society better off or often worse. In my opinion, social movements are worthwhile and have values. At first, the social movements are the performance of human beings’ right. In major countries, constitutions guarantee people’s rights. One of the rights we have is to express own their opinion. In the past, people were oppressed to display or claim their ideas. Therefore, showing and pursuing their ideas are the practice of individual rights.
Second, social movements are the way of sharing and spreading ideas. As I mentioned above, many people have so many different types of ideas or thoughts. Some might argue that the development of technology, for instance, wireless service, tablet PC, smart phones, Internet, help people share an opinion in the virtual world. However, I think that the social movements practiced in the world are more valuable and more hugely affect people. At last, by practicing and performing social movements, it creates better society and benefits. The major reason people exercise the social movements is to achieve their goal. Often, some groups of people start the social movements for their egocentric advantages. But the more case we can find generates the benefits, and we all enjoy the benefits such as democracy. This paper will explore the social movements occurred from the past to the present. In chronological sequence, it will explain the values of social movement and demonstrate the reasons with different articles.
Social movements range from local and regional to international ones, in which people come together to advocate similar interests that are seen to affect them together (Ness xix). It is evident that social change movements are substantially significant in the manner in which countries are managed as well as the improvement of human life. Since the 1700s, there have been several movements standing up for a course with goals and objectives to achieve. However, the value of each movement is founded on either negative or positive effect the group brings to the lives of the people. People, who stand up for a common goal, may decide to form an organization that will help them air their voices without personalizing things, thus making the message more comprehensive. For instance, a group of people advocating equality in the rights of people with disability may spread their message from their local towns, cross the borders and find regional support from the like-minded people. If the movement bears positivity, its wings may spread to international dimensions, gathering people who do not personally know each other. The value of social change movements is evaluated regarding the magnitude of change that they yield (Chambliss and Eglitis 14).
The Anti-Tax Movement is among the oldest movements operating since 1765 to present time. This movement operates with the mission of having a fair taxation in the USA, compelling the government to exercise fairness when imposing taxes. In the early 1700s, the British Empire was in need of money to settle its debt, and the only way to get the finances was through imposing charges on activities of the people in the form of taxes. The Women’s Rights Movement is another organization that has been in existence since 1848. The Mission of the movement is Equality of rights for all people (Ness 259). The effect of this movement has been immense and it becomes more significant day after day. The constitution of the USA is based on the cries of equality in human rights as well as fairness for all people, making this movement one of the most significant human groupings in the United States.
The Anti-War Movement of the years 1965-1973 came into being after the government of the USA had intensified the war against Vietnam, and the bloodshed raised public concerns (Ness 1037). The Mission of the movement was to end the war in Vietnam and raise social consciousness for unity between the two participating nations. Since then, all American wars have been opposed by several movements, but there has not been another one with more intensity than the Vietnam one. In October 1969, over 500,000 people marched through the streets of Washington, demanding that the government of Richard Nixon withdraw from the fight and bring the soldiers home (Ness 1037). This led to the government reducing the machinery and personnel in the war and eventually losing the war to Vietnam.
However, not all movements stand to criticize authority, since there are those that work to make people’s lives better by teaching them on better practices meant to reduce life risks.
For instance, the global movement called Slow Food formed in 1986 focuses primarily on how people eat as a mechanism for addressing contemporary quality-of-life challenges. Slow Food goes with the slogan “Good, Clean, Fair Food,” and it has gained popularity in over 150 countries across the globe. This is a perfect example of a positive social change movement that started from local level, grown to the regional one, earned national attention, and finally crossed borders to other countries. Over the years, there have been positive and negative impacts contributed by the presence of social change movements in societies (Ness xix). For instance, the upcoming same-sex marriage advocates have brought heated controversies between those who support and those who condemn relationships between people of the same gender. This is an example of a negative impact coming from a movement since the outcome of the message yields negativity and conflict instead of gathering support and social recognition. However, many things have changed as the result of these movements; some governments has agreed to change laws and accommodate these people’s quest while others have made new rules to condemn the players.
One such movement is the Civil Rights Movement of 1990-2000. The Mission of the movement is to challenge federal government’s authority and mode of governance (Ness 107). One of the issues the movement raises is the constitutionality of the Federal Affordable Care Act that has been challenged by about 28 states. Although the movement has been considered illegal, it has had support in one way or another from several states that advocate the same mission as the movement. Values of social change movements can be equated to what the players, as well as the wider community, achieve. As the world gets connected by the social media, people are now in a position to share their sentiments and publish their motives (Coy 9). It has become easier to send information to the international community than before since people no longer need to travel or make calls. The internet has helped social movements in gathering members and brainstorming on the issues of interest to them. This makes movements more productive than before when members used to gather in the streets and move around shouting their message.
Social movements have influenced the countries’ governance since they tend to air sentiments from the people who either ask for help from the state or confront the state on things that have not been positive on the members (Milan 30). For example, the movements advocating strategies for combating global warming have been considered very positive due to the impact they have on the environment conservation. Other environmental agencies have helped governments in creating rules that protect the environment. When a social change movement yields positive results, it is embraced by society and its slogan becomes the way of life (Milan 17). However, in some instances, the same positive movements tend to draw unnecessary attention, when some members engage in negative strategies. Most of the times, these movements are formed with a legitimate goal and a well-structured course of action, but somewhere along the line, things turn around and members become interested in other things. For instance, when a movement requires financing to carry out a project, the pressure of getting money can lead the members into negative strategies, hence eroding the dignity and significance of the movement.
Social change movements may be formed to advocate a legitimate issue in society but they end up becoming disastrous due to the mechanisms employed to achieve the goal (Snow et al. 417). The Islamic State in Iraq was formed to call Muslims to purity and absolute adherence and commitment to the teachings of the Quran but it employed the wrong methods of publicity and communication. The group started as a social change movement but ended up becoming one of the most dangerous human groupings on the planet. The value of ISIS would have been positive if only the pioneers of the movement had employed the right methods of teaching the target population about the theme. This is a good example of a social movement that advocates a good course but uses the wrong methods in achieving goals. Due to the attacks on the international community and dire need for financing the activities, the movement has turned to robbery, taking over businesses and killing owners, taking over oil deposits and resorting to hijacks among other criminal activities.
In democratic societies, social change movements are principal social platforms through which people give their voice to concerns about human rights. These groups are famous for their endless quest for justice, social welfare, and well-being of their members and wider society (Ness 66). They achieve their objectives by engaging in different mechanisms of collective action and public protest (Milan 9). In recent years, street protests have become an appropriate method of social change movements to forward their grievances and counter attack policies, sometimes ending in a battle between their members and the police. However, at the end of the protest, the message is aired, and society is impacted in one way or another. Some scholars have referred to the USA as “a social movement society” since the social movements have brought a huge impact on the way the country is governed, and these movements play a vital role in shaping the country regarding the social change in political, government, religion, health, education, corporate, and other institutional arenas (Ness 373).
However, social movements and change groupings, which have been a social platform for defending or challenging systems of authority for long, now become more ubiquitous not only in the USA but also globally. Citizens have turned to these movements for help in challenging governments when things do not go well with the members of the public (Snow et al. 419). As social protest becomes increasingly prevalent, there has been a corresponding rapid increase in research on social movement and their related activity (Coy 9). The impact of social movements and their values in the governance and authority of the US government as well as other countries has been increasingly relevant.
Social movements have brought massive impact in the manner in which constitutions are implemented since their members always follow whatever takes place in a country. Although public protests and street marches do not always end up in peace, the message is passed across to the target parties in tears and blood (Ness xix). In some instances, street protests end up in fights, stampede or arrests, since some people within the movements do not stand by their principles. This is what has made several governments condemn that strategy, terming it as a criminal way of pushing a message through. However, the impact is felt long after the protest, since the message is delivered either way. A country like the USA has been structured through social change movements, with numerous effects being felt long after a movement stood to advocate for something (Ness xix). Due to diversity in culture, the USA could not have had a comprehensive constitution that caters for every tribe, racem or ethnic group that lives there.
Social change is the course of progress in every legitimate and rational society, making these movements a pillar of success and revolution for the people. The USA is considered the country with the most active social movements since every citizen tends to be a supporter of a particular movement that believes in a rule or law (Milan 18). However, it is also evident that some movements have been formed for the purpose of causing havoc and expressing disillusionment, thus engaging members in risky and unlawful activities. Experts argue that no country can be run without members of the public getting engaged (Milan 15). There exist numerous mechanisms, through which people can air their views and complain about something that is done by the government, but getting into a social movement brings the views of different people together and makes it a side of view that can be discussed with coherence (Ness xix). However, it beats logic when a legitimate issue is brought out but wrong mechanisms are applied in raising it. For instance, using violence to protest against rising environmental pollution might be a misplaced idea, and this is what happens in most cases when people march to the streets.