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Introduction to Social Movements and Social Change

Yet capitalism dismisses environmentalism because the "market is the only measure of social, cultural, and economic value"; ecological interests are hostile to market strategies; and capitalism depends upon continual growth and expansion, especially since the "compulsion to accumulate is innate" Environmentalist power, in turn, responds by accepting economic growth but demanding regulations; by maintaining that nature, too, has inalienable rights this thinking is perhaps best exemplified in Peter Singer's version of utilitarianism ; and through social ecology's contention that ecological domination is implicated in human domination As for the latter, Aronowitz cites Lewis Mumford, whose Technics and Civilization first defined social ecology and suggested that nature must be courted, not conquered.

Readers will find this review of Mumford's work particularly telling since capitalism's tendency to abstract humanity begins with its usurping of the physical environment. Workers are degraded as environments are starved—debased to humanity's other. How Class Works covers so much ground, so quickly, that we are never really sure of its hero.


The answer must lie in how one defines history. Does one accept that the vast arrangement of social forces functioning on the workplace's peripheries also contributes to transformation—that is, to the same degree of what comes of the proletarian-capitalist dialectic? Or should these frequent and various struggles for formation be classified as the late Stephen Jay Gould often did challenges to Darwinian orthodoxy, as byproducts of the main event itself?

If Aronowitz can commit to qualified reduction—e.

Review of How Class Works: Power and Social Movement

Aronowitz, interestingly enough, attempts this answer in his earlier, influential False Promises , stating that Marx himself permitted less "mechanical categories" and insisted that the working class "must be comprehended in terms of its social and political activity" As Terry Eagleton eloquently puts it, though the Manifesto explicitly states that the downfall of the bourgeoisie is inevitable, there is room for contingency—Marx, too, would reject "that the historical modes of production would follow each other in some rigidly determined way" Yet at the same time, if prior attempts at communism have failed, it is likely because those nations that attempted it were leaping over capitalism, bypassing the very economic system that enables the socialist state in the first place.

Capitalism's "material and spiritual wealth" is requisite for a healthy communism, while laborers gain consciousness and solidarity by working through and then refusing capitalism's tyranny At least some of How Class Works is already "incorporated" and "mythologized" in the activist project, and there are moments when we wonder if Aronowitz's audience is an upper-division student first embarking on labor's extensive story or an advanced theoretician who can easily manage "space-time" in a physics-free setting the cartography itself is rhetorically interdisciplinary, often requiring leaps and bounds , but the book's rich historicism, radical reconstruction, and underlying sense of urgency make it an important contribution.

Aronowitz, Stanley.

Durham: Duke UP, New Haven: Yale UP, Boston: Beacon, Bourdieu, Pierre. Language and Symbolic Power. John B. Gino Raymond and Matthew Adamson. Cambridge: Harvard UP, Dyer-Witheford, Nick. Urbana: U of Illinois P, Eagleton, Terry. New York: Routledge, History and Class Consciousness. London: Merlin, Marx, Karl. Capital: Volume 1. Ben Fowkes.

Introduction to Social Movements and Social Change

London: Penguin, Thompson, E. The Making of the English Working Class. New York: Vintage, Some sociologists—for instance, Karl Polanyi—have argued that relative differences in economic wealth are more important than absolute deprivation, and that this is a more significant determinate of human quality of life. This debate has important consequences for social policy, particularly on whether poverty can be eliminated simply by raising total wealth or whether egalitarian measures are also needed.

A specific form of relative deprivation is relative poverty. Critics of this theory have pointed out that this theory fails to explain why some people who feel discontent fail to take action and join social movements. Counter-arguments include that some people are prone to conflict-avoidance, are short-term-oriented, or that imminent life difficulties may arise since there is no guarantee that life-improvement will result from social action.

The resource-mobilization approach is a theory that seeks to explain the emergence of social movements. Use the resource-mobilization theory to explain some of the successful social movements in history, such as the Civil Rights Movement. Resource-Mobilization Theory emphasizes the importance of resources in social movement development and success. Resources are understood here to include: knowledge, money, media, labor, solidarity, legitimacy, and internal and external support from a power elite.

The theory argues that social movements develop when individuals with grievances are able to mobilize sufficient resources to take action.

Resource mobilization theory also divides social movements according to their position among other social movements. This helps sociologists understand them in relation to other social movements; for example, how much influence does one theory or movement have on another? Critics of this theory argue that there is too much of an emphasis on resources, especially financial resources. Some movements are effective without an influx of money and are more dependent upon the movement of members for time and labor e. Illustrate how the various waves of the feminist movement helped advance women in terms of social status and equality.

First-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity during the 19 th and early twentieth century in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States. Second-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity beginning in the early s and through the late s. Second Wave Feminism has existed continuously since then, and continues to coexist with what some people call Third Wave Feminism. Second wave feminism saw cultural and political inequalities as inextricably linked.

The movement encouraged women to understand aspects of their personal lives as deeply politicized, and reflective of a sexist structure of power. If first-wavers focused on absolute rights such as suffrage, second-wavers were largely concerned with other issues of equality, such as the end to discrimination.

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Finally, the third-wave of feminism began in the early s. The movement arose as responses to what young women thought of as perceived failures of the second-wave. It was also a response to the backlash against initiatives and movements created by the second-wave. However by some convergence was appearing.

These divisions among feminists included: First World vs. Third World; the relationship between gender oppression and oppression based on class, race and nationality; defining core common elements of feminism vs. There is and must be a diversity of feminisms, responsive to the different needs and concerns of women, and defined by them for themselves.

This diversity builds on a common opposition to gender oppression and hierarchy which, however, is only the first step in articulating and acting upon a political agenda.

How Class Works: Power and Social Movement - Mogensen - - WorkingUSA - Wiley Online Library

At this conference a the Beijing Platform for Action was signed. New social movements focus on issues related to human rights, rather than on materialistic concerns, such as economic development. Evaluate the significance of new social movements NSMs , which are more concerned with social and cultural issues, and the implications NSMs have on modern-day society. The term new social movements NSMs is a theory of social movements that attempts to explain the plethora of new movements that have come up in various western societies roughly since the mids i.

There are two central claims of the NSM theory.

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  6. Firstly, the rise of the post-industrial economy is responsible for a new wave of social movement. Secondly, these movements are significantly different from previous social movements of the industrial economy. The primary difference is in their goals, as the new movements focus not on issues of materialistic qualities such as economic well-being, but on issues related to human rights such as gay rights or pacifism. The most noticeable feature of new social movements is that they are primarily social and cultural and only secondarily, if at all, political. The concept of new politics can be exemplified in gay liberation, the focus of which transcends the political issue of gay rights to address the need for a social and cultural acceptance of homosexuality.

    New social movements also emphasize the role of post-material values in contemporary and post-industrial society, as opposed to conflicts over material resources. According to Melucci, one of the leading new social movement theorists, these movements arise not from relations of production and distribution of resources, but within the sphere of reproduction and the life world. Consequently, the concern has shifted from the production of economic resources as a means of survival or for reproduction to cultural production of social relations, symbols, and identities.

    In other words, the contemporary social movements reject the materialistic orientation of consumerism in capitalist societies by questioning the modern idea that links the pursuit of happiness and success closely to growth, progress, and increased productivity and by instead promoting alternative values and understandings in relation to the social world. They tend to focus on a single issue, or a limited range of issues connected to a single broad theme, such as peace or the environment.

    New social movements concentrate on the grassroots level with the aim to represent the interests of marginal or excluded groups. Therefore, new collective actions are locally based, centered on small social groups and loosely held together by personal or informational networks such as radios, newspapers, and posters.

    As stated by Offe, the new middle class has evolved in association with the old one in the new social movements because of its high levels of education and its access to information and resources. The groups of people that are marginal in the labor market, such as students, housewives, and the unemployed participate in the collective actions as a consequence of their higher levels of free time, their position of being at the receiving end of bureaucratic control, and their inability to be fully engaged in society specifically in terms of employment and consumption.

    Skip to main content. Social Change. Search for:. Social Movements Social Movements Social movements are broad alliances of people connected through a shared interest in either stopping or instigating social change.