The reason behind the protests carried out by people has been the reason for research for the social scientists since a number of years. Le Bon, a French psychologist, who is considered to be the founding father of action studies, had stated that all kinds of protests conducted all over are a certain form of deviant behavior. The psychologist had developed this theory observing the crowds in his country France during 1890. This period is particularly significant since during this time there was huge social unrest in the country (Della Porta and Diani, 1999). The scholar believed that the fundamental basis of the transformation of the thought process of the humans were a result of the destructions carried out in the religious and political beliefs that combined with the new conditions of thought and existence that were created depending on the new scientific and industrial inventions. He further stated that with regard to the social protests and movements there are a number of ideas that has evolved from the past which even though are to some extent destroyed still possess a lot of power and there are also ideas which are new but they are yet to be completely formed.
The theory of social movement can be considered as an interdisciplinary study included in the study of social sciences that attempts to describe the reasons behind the causes of social mobilization and the various forms of its manifestation and the probable consequences that it has on the cultural or political or social arenas. Social movement can be considered as a sort of a group action. In most of the cases these groups which conduct these movements are huge with a wide variety of individuals participating in them. Sometimes these groups are informal or are formed of organizations instead of individuals and generally all these social movements focus on any specified social or political issue.
The study of political science and sociology while conducting research has recognized a number of theories and research in the phenomenon of social movements. For instance, there are some research which focuses on the relationship between the social movements that are gradually gaining grounds and the formations of the political parties. Further there are some that stress on the social movements and their functions with regard to the setting of different agendas and influence on politics (EVA, 2004).
The researcher in this study aims to examine a particular social movement and critically analyse the theoretical perspectives of social movements with the support of cases.
During the contemporary times it can be observed that there are a number of social movements that has been possible as a result of the increase in the literacy and education of the people all around the world. Further, during the 19th century, there was an increase in the mobility of labor as a result of the increase in the industrialization and urbanization of the societies (Fadaee, 2014). The increase in the extraordinary growth in the number of social movements in the present times is a result of the freedom given to individuals with regard to education, expression and economic independence (EVA, 2004). Nevertheless, many scholars state that there are other reasons for social movements such as the uprisings and protests against the western colonial powers. In most cases it has been observed that social movements have mainly been associated with the democratic and political systems (Tilly, 2004). Sometimes these social movements have also been associated with the issues of democratizing the nations and are observed that these movements have flourished more after the nations have democratized.
In modern times the social movements have flourished with the help of innovative technology and the use of internet as these Medias help to mobilize with the people in the international level. For successful social movements it is essential that these movements adapt to the communication trends.
There are a number of theoretical approaches in social movement that has been categorized by the scholars under structural or social or constructive models. Structural approaches can be further divided under the category of political process and resource mobilization. Political process is an approach that lays emphasis on the political features of the collective actions. Research mobilization is another approach that stresses on the organization and its aspects and resources. The social and constructive approach is another kind of approach that lays stress on the various questions about how the individuals and the groups observe, reflect and interpret the various conditions and emphasizes on the different roles of cognitive and affective roots of the contentions.
This particular approach has been widely classified under the three primary concepts. These are framing, emotions and identity. Sometimes the concept of culture is also included in this category. With regard to the social and psychological approaches to the social movements these are regarded as the key components in this area (Oommen, 2010). According to the social psychologists generally people live in an observed world. This means that they usually respond in accordance to what they observe and how they interpret such observations. In order to understand the reasons for the people to protest, it is necessary to understand the methods in which people observe and interpret the world. Hence it can be construed that social psychology is one medium that focuses more on the subjective variables and therefore this approach is more perfect as compared to the social and constructive approaches.
The above discussion has been given in the form of a table for constructive understanding of the study on social movements (Social movement theory: Past, n.d.).
While summing up the different theories of social movement, these theories can be categorized into four different types. These theories are collective behavior theory, resource mobilization theory, the new social movements’ theory and the action-identity theory. The first theory of collective behavior can be identified as the orthodox study on social movements. Most of the scholars who support this approach state that social movements are half-balanced responses for the some abnormal conditions that exist between the primary social institutions (Ruiz-Junco, 2012). These responses tend to break down the entire social system. Scholars explain that this is the mechanism that is resulting in the surfacing of the social movements.
The second approach which is the resource mobilization on the contrary describes the reasons for the surfacing of the social movements which would be considered as the reactions that the society gives when social changes take place. This approach gives a positive view of the social movements and considers it to be a medium to re-establish the order in the society according to the fresh changes in the society. However, it must be noted that the causes for the coming up of the social movements can be explained only in a general manner and it actually do not connect with the contents.
The new value approach on the other hand does not connect with the class interests and deals more with the values. Before the establishment of the industrial society there were old values and after the establishment of the society there are new values. The social movements of the post industrial societies it can be observed that these social movements are similar to that of the new social movements (Staggenborg, 2011).
The final approach which is the action-identity approach is in some way a bit different from the others. This approach focuses on the dissimilarities between the post industrial and the industrial societies. However this does not discard the structure of the class approach. According to this approach, the classes during the post industrial society are quite different from the industrial society but there still exist similarities between the material interests.
Throughout centuries there have been a number of social movements around the globe that has focused various revolutions, democratization of nations etc. In this research study the researcher has chosen the social movement on Anti-Apartheid. This Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) was previously known as the Boycott Movement. This movement was initiated by a British Organization and it was this organization that acted as the epicenter for this international movement. The primary objective of this movement was to oppose the system of apartheid that was prevalent in the country of South Africa and to support the non – white people existing in the country. This movement was first initiated as a response to an appeal by Albert Luthuli. This movement was later established in the year 1959 during a meeting held for the exiles of South Africans and their supporters. The famous members of this organization were Steve Naidoo, Ros Ainslie, Peter Koinange and Claudia Jones.
One of the tragedies that triggered greater response to this movement was the Sharpeville massacre that took place in March 1960. It so happened that around sixty nine protestors were shot dead by the South African police and as a result of this incident there was a requirement for instance action. Later this organization was renamed as the "Anti-Apartheid Movement". After the name was changed the boycott group to a much broader area that would now coordinate all kinds of the work on behalf of anti- apartheid and this kept the apartheid policy in South Africa in the forefront for the British politics. This campaign propagated that apartheid be removed completely from the country of South Africa and any non inconsistency would result in the economic sanctions for them (Fieldhouse, 2005).
During this time, one of the largest foreign investor for the country of South Africa was United Kingdom and this country was also the third biggest export market for United Kingdom.
Hence it can be observed that primary causes for United Kingdom in entering into the social movement for the Apartheid is also dependent on a number of other related reasons such the economic stability of the countries, the political pressure that was on the countries with regard to this agitation etc. This particular movement was existent for almost thirty five years and during these thirty five years thousands of people in the country of Britain became associated with the Anti-Apartheid Movement campaign until the first democratic elections were held in the country of South Africa in the year 1994.
This was one social movement were a number of different methods were incorporated in order to make this movement a success. Campaigns were conducted in order to release the detained people who were detained without any trials. They compelled for the cancellation of the Springbok cricket tour in the year 1970 (Fieldhouse, 2005). Some of the well known British companies sold off their South African subsidiaries and encouraged the social movements. Some of the companies also conducted national boycott for the imported goods of the South African nations and finally they also held concerts in order to demand the release of the Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.
The resource mobilization approach of social movement is reminded with regard to the Anti Apartheid Movement. As most scholars state that in general cases the approach of any social movement is such that it gives a positive approach of the social movement and also attempts to establish the societal order in accordance to the new changes and new advancements of the society.
As concluding remarks social movements can be considered as expression to protest which flourish in cases where the state is moderate and is also not consistent with the uses of repression. It is the structure for the political opportunities that identify the social movements with ease and consider them to be included. However, it must be noted that none of the social movements are staying forever. Each of these social movements has a limited lifecycle. First they are created, then they gradually grow and slowly they achieve success or fail and finally they stop existing. Also in most cases the social movements tend to evolve only in those time and places where they are likely to get a friendly environment and good support.
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EVA, F. (2004). Social Movements are Political Movements. What's Geopolitics?. Geopolitics, 9(2), pp.478-483.
Fadaee, S. (2014). Understanding European Movements: New Social Movements, Global Justice Struggles, Anti-Austerity Protest. Social Movement Studies, 14(2), pp.251-253.
Fieldhouse, R. (2005). Anti-apartheid. London: Merlin.
Oommen, T. (2010). Social movements. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Ruiz-Junco, N. (2012). Feeling Social Movements: Theoretical Contributions to Social Movement Research on Emotions. Sociology Compass, 7(1), pp.45-54.
Social movement theory: Past, p. (n.d.). Social movement theory: Past, present and prospect. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/988496/Social_movement_theory_Past_present_and_prospect [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].
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