Portal:Social movements

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Social movements

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Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals and/or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change.

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 is 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 continue 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 on a global scale. Adapting to communication trends is a common theme among successful movements.

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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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Malcolm X NYWTS 4.jpg

Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist. He has been described as one of the greatest, and most influential, African Americans in history.

After living in a series of foster homes during his childhood, Malcolm X became involved in hustling and other criminal activities in Boston and New York. In 1946, Malcolm X was sentenced to eight to ten years in prison. While in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam, but left the organization in March 1964.

Malcolm X later became a Sunni Muslim and made a pilgrimage to Mecca, after which he disavowed racism. He traveled extensively throughout Africa and the Middle East. He founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., a religious organization, and the secular, Pan-Africanist, Organization of Afro-American Unity. Less than a year after he left the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X was assassinated by three members of the group while giving a speech in New York.

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Anti-nuclear protest near nuclear waste disposal centre at Gorleben, Germany, on November 8, 2008.

Did you know...

Activist Wisdom: Practical knowledge and Creative Tension in Social Movements is an Australian book by Sarah Maddison and Sean Scalmer.

Peace marches, protest demonstrations and campaigns have often been part of the Australian social and political landscape. This book includes interviews with some of Australia's best-known activists and provides a bigger picture that analyses successes and failures, communication of ideas, and political impacts.

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