Social movements are characterized as informal networks of connections involving a diverse range of individuals, groups, and/or organizations involved in political or cultural issues based on common collective identities. Social movements have the ability to influence government policy through lobbying activities, electoral politics, and other means.
Social movements can be defined as "informal networks of connections" between people who share common goals and interests. These networks may include activists, non-profit organization staff members, donors, and others. Social movements also involve an exchange of ideas across boundaries of time and space. Thus, they cannot be contained by traditional definitions of organization or leadership.
In general, scholars agree that social movements are large-scale, long-lasting efforts that seek to improve some aspect of one's society or environment. They usually aim at changing public policies through protests, demonstrations, and other forms of activism.
Scholars have used different terms to describe social movements. Some use the word "movement" to refer exclusively to organized political actions while others include more loosely connected groups of people with similar beliefs and aims. Still other scholars limit the definition even further by requiring direct action from participants toward a specific goal. For example, some writers exclude social movements that change practices but not laws while others require campaigns that attempt to achieve legislative changes.
A social movement is a loosely structured attempt by a large number of people to attain a certain objective, usually social or political in nature. This might be to implement, resist, or reverse a social change. Political science and sociology have produced a plethora of hypotheses and empirical studies on social movements. The most widely accepted definition of a social movement is "a widespread popular movement that reaches beyond an issue or issue group to affect government policy."
Social movements can be divided into three broad categories according to the origin of their energy: external, internal, and mass actions. External movements receive their energy from outside sources such as governments or organizations. Examples include revolutions and rebellions. Internal movements are driven by individuals who seek to improve their own conditions. They may do so through collective action with like-minded others, but they are not required to do so. Mass actions are large-scale events that result in societal change without any prior organization or leadership. An example of a mass action is when many people come together to protest against government policies or act upon their beliefs in other ways not involving the government.
Social movements are important because they often represent the first major challenge to existing power structures. Furthermore, the processes through which they emerge, grow, and are contained are interesting in themselves. Thus, social movements provide us with insights about how societies function together to influence institutional change.
It is a sort of group activity in which people, organizations, or both are involved. The term can also be applied to similar attempts that fail to achieve their goals.
Social movements can be classified according to the year they started, the country or countries where they are based, and the type of change they aim to produce in society. Some examples include:
1848: Birth of Modern Social Movement with the publication of Charles Fourier's Le Nouveau Monde Liberated de l'Egalité (The New World Free from Equality). This book was first published in France but it had a huge success around the world because it offered a new vision of society where happiness was the main goal of everyone.
1865-1930s: Rise of Democracy as a Global Idea
1945-1995: Rise of the Corporate State
1998-present: Rise of the Radical Right
What are the differences between social movements and civil wars? Social movements are efforts by groups of people to change something about their environment without using violent means, while civil wars are efforts by groups or individuals to change something about their environment by using violence.
When a significant number of individuals unite and mobilize to actively seek common political goals, a social movement is born (Freeman & Johnson, 1999). A social movement has a formal and long-lasting organizational structure, as well as well-known leaders. It also exhibits certain cultural traits that set it apart from other groups or organizations.
A social movement consists of five essential components: a concern about something; a desire for change; a belief that action is necessary; a sense of unity among those involved with each other; and finally, some sort of goal or outcome desired by participants.
These components are not always present in every social movement, but when they are, they help define what type of movement it is. For example, one particular movement that has become synonymous with the term "social movement" is the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. This movement was driven by an issue that was considered important by many Americans at the time - racial discrimination - and it included all types of activism - legislative, educational, and cultural - aimed at achieving equal rights for black Americans.
Another example is the Green Movement in Iran. This movement began as an effort to raise awareness about environmental issues but soon became focused on bringing about democratic changes in its host country. The fifth component - a goal or outcome desired by participants - was certainly present in this movement as were many others like it around the world.
The term "social movement" was first used by the British historian A. L. Beier to describe those significant events that affect many people at once, such as revolutions or wars.
Social movements can be divided up into three broad categories: mass movements, popular movements, and expert movements. A mass movement is one that reaches a large number of people, often including all members of a population. Mass movements are most likely to arise when there is a new idea, technology, or product that can help solve a problem common to a lot of people. For example, the civil rights movement in America was a mass movement because it affected everyone who lived in America at some point in their lives. Even if they did not participate in any other movements, blacks were still able to enjoy many rights that non-blacks could not avoid. A popular movement is one that attracts a large number of supporters but does not include all members of a population. Popular movements tend to focus on specific issues that affect many people but do not necessarily address broader problems within society.