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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Feminist suffrage parade in New York City, May 6, 1912.

The feminist movement (also known as Women's Liberation) refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, voting rights, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.

The movement's history has gone through three waves, beginning in the 18th century. The first wave was oriented around the station of middle or upper-class white women, and involved suffrage and political equality. Second-wave feminism attempted to further combat social and cultural inequalities. Third-wave feminism was a reaction to and continuation of the second wave, taking a post-structuralist analysis of femininity to argue that there is in fact no all-encompassing single feminist idea. It set itself against essentialist definitions of femininity, which assume a universal female identity, instead emphasizing discursive power and the ambiguity of gender. Third-wave theory incorporates elements of queer theory, anti-racism, and other hallmarks of modern progressivism.

The feminist movement has brought a sweeping variety of social and cultural change, its impact touching familial relations, religion, the place of women in society, gendered language, and relationships between men and women.

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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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The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a large political rally in support of civil and economic rights for African-Americans that took place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech advocating racial harmony at the Lincoln Memorial during the march.

The march was organized by a group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, under the theme "jobs, and freedom." Estimates of the number of participants varied from 200,000 (police) to over 300,000 (leaders of the march). Observers estimated that 75–80% of the marchers were black and the rest were white and other minorities. The march is widely credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the National Voting Rights Act (1965).

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