Social movements refer to large groups of people seeking to achieve or block a process of social change via activities that are outside recognized institutions (Giddens, Duneier, Appelbaum and Carr 10). Social movements try to accomplish a common goal and a common interest. Their main goal is to halt a process of social change. Similar to interest groups in liberal democracies, such as the US, social movements create change and influence public policies. They put pressure on government to adopt or change new policies. In addition, according to Giddens et al. (45), some social movements have been seen engaging in educating the public. A good example of social movements is the American Civil rights. In this regard, this paper compares and contrasts various theoretical approaches to the study of social movements. These theoretical approaches are the major reason why social movements occur and they include economic deprivation, resource mobilization, structural strain, fields of action, feminist movements, globalization and new social movements and technology as well as social movements.
The first reason for the occurrence of social movements is economic deprivation (Giddens et al. 67). It refers to the general inequalities in wealth and income resulting from the move from feudal to capitalist system. It is important to cite that social movements arise since people are dissatisfied and yearn for change. However, their own grievances cannot be adequate to urge the occurrence of social movements. Karl Max also pointed out that social movements in democratic nations occur due to economic deprivation (Giddens et al. 40). According to Max, revolutions are likely to occur when there is a severe increase in economic deprivations.
Resource mobilization is also a reason why social movements are common in greatest democracies (Giddens et al. 56). The concept of collective action is very critical in explaining resource mobilization as a contributing factor to the occurrence of social movements. Collective actions refer to an action carried out in a comparatively impulsive way by a large group of united people. Collective action has to do with the way people behave and coordinate in a collective manner. Mobilization, opportunity, common interests and organization are essential for people to behave collectively. In this context, mobilization is the acquisition of resources, which makes collective action possible. Examples of resources that need to be mobilized include money, time, equipment, technical expertise and personnel. According to Giddens et al. (43), if resources are not mobilized effectively, people might not coordinate.
Structural strain might as well cause social movement (Giddens et al. 56). Therefore, structural strains refer to tensions that result in conflicting interests within the society. In order for structural strain to occur, there must be structural conduciveness, which refers to the social circumstances inhibiting or promoting the formation of social movements. Structural strains are one of the factors promoting structural conduciveness. A nation that limits the level to which it controls the society creates circumstances allowing the occurrence of social movements. An example of structural strain is the sustained disparities between the whites and the African American in the US that produced grievances for the civil rights movement (Giddens et al. 14). The interactions and forces represent the examples of what constitutes the field of actions.
According to Giddens et al. (56), field of action encourages the occurrence of social movements. Field of action refers to an area within which social movements work together with recognized organizations. As a result, the outlook of the members and their ideas are modified. Field of action includes the associations between a social movement and the influences against it. These forces and interactions make social movement to be in a state of constant change.
Feminist movements encourage the occurrence of social movements (Giddens et al. 12). The existence of feminist movements in the US dates back to 1790, though they did not become strong until mid-1800s. During this period, a group of women began struggling for their rights. These women had a common goal of fighting for their rights. In fact, some of the feminist movements today are some of loudly spoken social movements in the world. An example of women movements is the Women Rights Movement in the US. This movement was formed in 1848 during the declaration of sentiments and resolutions (Giddens et al. 16).
Globalization is also a catalyst for social movements (Giddens et al. 45). A new social movement refers to the set of social movements that have taken place since 1960 in a reaction to the changing risks experienced by human societies. Some aspects of globalization have diverse risks to human societies. Some of these risks harm the environment. Most of the social movements today revolve around issues of peace, ecology, sexual identity and gender, lesbian and gay rights and opposition to globalization. Examples of social movements include anti-genetically modified food movements, anti-nuclear technologies movement and anti-globalization movement.
In conclusion, social movements try to accomplish a common goal and a common interest. Social movements create change and influence public policies. Moreover, they put pressure on government to adopt or change new policies. The various theoretical approaches explaining why social movements occur include economic deprivation, resource mobilization, structural strain, fields of action, feminist movements, globalization and new social movements and technology as well as social movements. The concept of collective action is very critical in explaining resource mobilization as a contributing factor to the occurrence of social movements. Structural strains refer to tensions that result in conflicting interests within the society.