Social Movements Essay

Social Movements

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            Social Movements are one of the most influential phenomena of the modern society. They have rendered profound impact on societies and nations during the course of time. This paper will discuss the social movements as well as describe some of the major social movements of the United States.

Definition of Social Movement:

            “Social Movements are a series of contentious performances, displays and campaigns by which ordinary people made collective claims on others” (Tilly, 2004) In other words Social movements are the key medium for the masses to take part and physically get involved in any social or political activity in a state or society. According to Tarrow (1994) Social movements are collective challenges to the elite or authorities by the common people.


         Though German Sociologist Lorenz von Stein coined the term in his book “History of the French Social Movement from 1789 to Present” in 1850, there are different views about the earliest recorded and documented social movements. Some of the major early social movements are the French Social movement, which led to the French revolution, The British Abolitionist movement (1791) and Polish Constitution (1791). The major factors involved in the evolution of social movements are industrialization, urbanization, mobility of labor resulting in interaction of different people and mass education which developed the sense of social, individual and political rights among the masses.

Important Social Movements of the United States:

         American Abolitionist Movement has made profound impacts on the society and future of the United States. This Movement started in 1775 by the formation of “Society for the relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage”. By 1804 nearly all the Northern States had abolished slavery. The South resisted the abolitionism and in the 1830s the abolitionist faced harsh conditions there.

Another most important social movement is The Civil Rights Movement of the United States. The movement basically started against the racial discrimination against the African Americans, which was practiced under the government authority in the Southern states as well as in other local governments out side the south. The movement took a major momentum in 1955 when Rosa Parks was arrested for not sitting on a seat reserved for whites and denying to give it up.

Women Rights Movement or Feminism is another major movment in the United States. The movement started in the country with the involvment of Lucretia Motts during the abolitionist movement. The movement took momentum after the Senaca Falls Convention in 1848. Some reformist men like Garrison and Philips also supported feminism in its earlier stage. Environmental Movement is also major movements of the Of the United States.

Works Cited

Charles Tilly, Social Movements, 1768-2004; 2004, Paradigm Publishers. ISBN 1-59451-042-3.

Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement: Collective Action, Social Movements and Politics, 1998, Cambridge University Press.

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