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Social movements have been defined as large informal groups of people or organizations focused on specific social or political issues (Markoff, 1996). The types of social movements include reform movements. which are aimed towards the improvement of society by alteration of specific aspects of the social structure. Revolutionary movements are geared towards changing society completely, while religious movements are often created to promote radical change in individuals and are usually based on supernatural or spiritual belief systems. In addition, alternative movements seek to change limited aspects of people’s behavior. Finally, resistance movements are aimed at preventing or undoing change that has already occurred.
The individuals that join social movements are often those that are deeply committed to a set of goals. These individuals also usually support the movement’s goals and they enjoy being part and parcel of the social movement. Another feature of people that join social movements is curiosity over social movement activities, and some even use social movement activities to satisfy vested interests. Many people join social movements due to collective behavior. Collective behavior results with the existence of structural factors that are likely to make people respond in a particular way. Additionally, a breakdown in social control mechanisms may contribute to collective behavior (Markoff, 1996). For collective behavior to occur, the following factors must prevail. There must be some structural strain and the society must be conducive for collective action. In addition there must be a general belief on what is wrong and what could be done to fix this problem. More often a precipitating action capable of sparking collective action occurs after which the mobilization of action takes place.
According to Markoff (1996), social movement activities are divided into stages namely the preliminary stage where individuals continually become aware of an existing problem. This is then followed by the coalescence stage, where groups of people start getting organized, making their threat known to the public. The final stage is the institutional stage, which involves the development of an organizational structure, which will essentially run the social movement.
Several movements have lobbied for my indulgence but I have often turned most of them down. This essentially stemmed from the fact that I did not believe in the goals the movement set out to achieve. I found their intensions rather simplistic and a complete waste of my precious time. In addition, the set of goals I am committed to were not in line with the movement’s goals. It must also be noted that I do not enjoy being part of social movements, because I believe it is a demonstration of insecurity. Rather than stand out as individuals, people that join social movements essentially hide in the crowd. I have also never been curious in social movement activities and neither do I believe that the activities will benefit me in any way.
Despite my disdain for social movements, I have found a few appealings, because their goals were concrete in the sense that they addressed pressing societal issues, like the need for better education or environmental protection. In addition, these movements did not demand for outrageous monetary contributions, and they were well organized with a clearly outlined structure. Finally, these movement’s goals appealed to me by virtue of the fact that they fought for some of society’s essential needs, like education and the right to proper sanitation.
In conclusion, social movements are society’s way of voicing their opinions and demanding for change whether small or radical. Essentially, organized groups of like-minded individuals come together for a common cause. Social movements are one of the ways of society’s most pressing needs to be effectively addressed.
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