- A social movement is defined as a sustained collective action aimed at bringing or resisting social change outside the sphere of established institutions.
- A social movement requires sustained collective action over time and hence totally spontaneous and ephemeral collective actions cannot be termed as social movements.
- Collective action must be marked by some degree of organization and also has certain ideology.
- According to Anderson and Parker, social movement is “a form of dynamic pluralistic behaviour which progressively develops structure through time and aims at partial or complete modification of the social order.”
- Lundberg defines social movement as, “a voluntary association of people engaged in concerted efforts to change attitudes, behaviour and social relationships in a larger society.”
THEORIES ON SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
- Social Unrest Theory
Blumer saw them as collective attempts to change the existing social order. According to Herbert Blumer, social movements can be ‘active’ – or outwardly directed aiming to transform the society or ‘expressive’ – or inwardly directed to change the people who are involved.
- Relative Deprivation Theory
A social movement usually starts because the people are unhappy about certain things. Babbar Khalsa Movement is such example. The limitations of this theory are that while perceptions of deprivation may be a necessary condition for collective action, they are not a sufficient reason in themselves.
- Structural Strain Theory
It was a structural functionalist perspective given by Neil Smelser.
All social movements do not arise out of relative deprivation.
They can also originate from structural strain between values and structural means.
When the prevailing value system and
the normative structure do not meet the aspirations of the people, the society faces strain.
What happens at this time is that a new value system is sought so as to replace the old.
- Resource Mobilisation Theory
It fills the gap of ‘relative deprivation theories’ by providing that apart from feeling of deprivation, resources are also necessary to wage a movement.
It argued that participants of a social movement behave rationally and apart from ideology and spirit, a social movement needs material resources to remain a sustained effort.
- Revitalization Theory
It was given by Wallace.
Though social movements express
dissatisfaction and dissent against the system, they may also offer a positive alternative.
- Theory of Historicity Theory
It was given by Allain Touraine in his ‘The Voice and the Eye: An Analysis of Social Movements, 1981’.
It says that cause of a social movement is rooted in historicity of a place and people from where movement started.
- Status Inconsistency Theory
According to Broom and Lenski, objective discrepancy between people’s ranking and status dimension – e.g., education, income, occupation – generate subjective tensions in the society leading to cognitive dissonance, discontent and protest.