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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Anti-Vietnam War demonstration, 1967.

Opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War is significant because it was the first time a war was shown and accessed through to the public in the United States.

The protests gained momentum from the Civil Rights Movement that had organized to oppose segregation laws, which had laid a foundation of theory and infrastructure on which the anti-war movement grew. Protests were fueled by a growing network of independently published newspapers (known as "underground papers") and the timely advent of large venue rock'n'roll festivals such as Woodstock and Grateful Dead shows, attracting younger people in search of generational togetherness.

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Che Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary and a major figure of the Cuban Revolution. Since his death, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol and global insignia within popular culture.

Guevara was involved in Guatemala's social reforms under President Jacobo Arbenz, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow solidified Guevara's radical ideology. Later, while living in Mexico City, he met Raúl and Fidel Castro, and joined their 26th of July Movement.

Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara played a central role in training the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion and bringing to Cuba the Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles which precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Additionally, he was a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on guerrilla warfare, along with a best-selling memoir about his youthful motorcycle journey across South America. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution abroad, first unsuccessfully in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia, where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and executed.

Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, while an Alberto Korda photograph of him entitled Guerrillero Heroico (shown), was declared "the most famous photograph in the world."

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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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