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DR. FABIO ROJAS: Hi, my name is Dr. Fabio Rojas,and I teach sociology at Indiana University.Today we're going to talk about social movements, why peopleprotest for social change.So let's start with a summary.When you look around you, see all kinds of movementsprotesting for social change.In America, you see Black Lives Matter, a protest that
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: is aimed at police brutality.You saw Occupy Wall Street, whichwas a protest that tried to changeeconomic inequality in America.On the conservative side of things,you see the Tea Party, a social movementthat sprang up in opposition to someof the policies of the Obama administration.Social movements are also found across the world.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: In 2011, we had the Arab Spring.These are movements that toppled governmentsin Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.Recently, we had an anti-communist protestin Hong Kong.So the world is shaped by people coming to the streets,protesting for change, asking for the governmentsto treat them more fairly and more equitably.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: So in today's discussion, or tutorial,we're going to talk about what social movements are,why sociologists find them interesting, how they work,and whether they matter at all, and what the outcomes are.[What is a Social Movement?]So let's start with a simple definition
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: of a social movement.Usually, when sociologists look at social movements,they consider three things.First of all, a social movement has to be collective.It can't be just one person protesting.A social movement is usually a groupof people who are coming out to demand social change.So these are the first two things
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that most sociologists consider when they'relooking at protest movements.It has to be a collective action with some sort of organizationthat is aimed at social or political change.The interesting thing about social movementsis that they use contentious means.What does that denote?A contentious style of politics or a contentious style
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: of protest is an attempt to change societyby doing something that's disruptive or not normal.For example, normally in America,we try to change our government by voting.We don't like one party, we vote for the other party.If we do not like the way Congress is formulatingthe laws, we might try to lobby Congress by writing a letter
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: or by showing up to our representative's office.Protest movements try to take a different tactic.Most protest movements have reached a pointwhere they believe that simply doing thingsthrough the regular channels is not enough.That's why they take to the street.That's why they take to protest.That's why they try to disrupt things in order
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: to get their message out.So when sociologists think about social movements,they think about a collective group of peoplewho are working together.They're trying to change some structural featureof their society, such as government policyor public attitudes.And they use nontraditional means of influence,such as protests and disruption.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: [Under what conditions does a social movement appear?]One of the most important questions that sociologistsconsider when they think about social movements is emergence.In other words, under what conditions doesa social movement appear?This is an interesting question, because if youlook around society, you'll notice that most people are not
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: protesting most of the time.Most people go to work.They go to school.They live at home.They watch TV.They are not actively engaged in politics.However, from time to time, thereare moments when social protest movements pop up,and they make their presence known.Usually there are four types of explanations that sociologists
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: consider when they're asking the question of whya social movement appears.One is what people call relative deprivation or social stress.In other words, people are not goingto protest if they're getting what they expect.So for example, if I go to work, and my boss promises me$20 an hour, and I get a check for $20 an hour,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: I'm not going to complain.However, if I sign up for $20 an hour, and the boss says,I'm sorry, due to the recession, I'mgoing to pay you $15 an hour, and I'mgoing to cut back your hours.Then you might complain.You might say, hold on.This is not what you promised me.And often, in in American history and in world history,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: you see social movements appear whenthere's some sort of stress.When things are going well, then somethingdoesn't happen in the way that was expected.For example, notice that the Tea Party and Occupy WallStreet both appeared at a time of greatsocial and economic stress.Occupy Wall Street tried to tie the recession of 2008
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: to government corruption and economic inequality.The Tea Party was a movement thattried to tie the same recession and arguethat it was the result of bad policiesfrom the Bush and Obama administrations.So in considering why social movements appear,we think about relative deprivationand changing expectations.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Another factor that seems to contributeto political protests and social movements, in general,is the openness of the political system and the opportunitiesthat are available.For example, you will notice that peopleare more engaged in politics as an election comes close.So as I'm recording this video, it is the spring of 2015,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: and there are no major elections in the United States.Not surprisingly, you don't see a lot of political rallies.As we get closer to the primaries in 2016,you'll see a lot more protests, you'llsee a lot more political rallies,and you'll see a lot more contention.This is what sociologists call an opportunity structure.There's something about our political system
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that makes it a little bit more open, and a little bit moreinviting for protest movements.Protest movements know that people are paying attentionduring elections, therefore they come out to protest.A third factor that people often consider when studyingsocial movements is framing.So just to give you a simple example is the environment.In the year 1900, there were many factories across America
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that were putting pollutants into the atmosphere,putting things into our river ways, and our beaches.However, this was considered the normal outcome of business.By 1960, things had radically changed.People started saying things like,maybe these are polluting the environment.Maybe these business practices are damaging the environment.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: And what people did was reframe the issue.They took something which everybody took for granted,and they reframed it.And then they said, look there may be a problem with this.We need the government to step in and do something.And this is a very common process that reallyencourages social movements.The process of framing is when somebody comes in,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: and they recast an issue as an urgent issue thatneeds to be addressed through political protestand disruption.Another important question that social movements scholarsconsider is the question of recruitment.Once again, look around your neighborhood.You'll see that most people are not participating in protests.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Most people aren't at the picket lines.And in fact, there are a number of studiesthat have asked, how often do people protest overthe course of their life?The answer depends on how you ask the question.Roughly speaking, most Americans will neverprotest in their life.They will never join a picket line.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: They will never walk off of work.Most people are not interested in protest politics.This suggests to us that the conditions thatencourage somebody to leave their home,or leave their workplace, and participatein a protest or other disruptive actionare very special circumstances, indeed.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: One hypothesis that people considered for a long timewas ideology.For example, you might think that somebodywho is politically liberal might be more likely to joinan environmentalist group.However, one thing that you also notice if you look around,is that most people who are liberal do not protest.Protest, once again, is very rare,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: even amongst people who are liberal.So ideology and belief are clearly notenough to get people out into the streets.[Recruitment]So if ideology is not enough to get people outin the streets, then what does draw people out of their homes,out of their businesses, into the political arena?There are two major answers that scholars have considered.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: First is contact with the movement.One of the most important observationsabout social movements is that theyhave a lot of infrastructure.They have organizations, they have websites,they have newspapers, they have outreach programs.And the closer you are to one of these points of contactwith the movement, the more likely you are to protest.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: An interesting example is providedby Ziad Munson, a sociologist who studies protest movements.He analyzed the pro-life movement.That is the movement that tries to eliminate abortionin American society.He interviewed dozens of people whohad protested in favor of abolishing abortion.What he discovered is that before they began protesting,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: they didn't always oppose abortion.There are some people who surely did.They started off with a strong belief against abortion,and joining the movement was a natural extension of whatthey were already doing.However, there are a lot of people who simply don'tunderstand what abortion was.They didn't understand the implications.And there are some people who even favored abortion
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: before they joined the social movement.So what made the difference?What Professor Munson discovered wasthat people had close personal contacts with peoplewho were in the movement.You are more likely to join the pro-life movementif one of your friends or coworkerswas already in the movement.And in his interviews, people described moments
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: with their friends who said, hey,would you like to show up to a meeting at my church?Would you like to show up at a meeting at the library?There's an important issue that you should really consider.And it's this close, personal contactwith the movement that seems to really draw peopleinto protests.One of my favorite examples is a study of the 1989 Democracy
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Movement in China.There is a professor at the University of Chicago namedDingxin Zhao who interviewed people who are in the DemocracyMovement in China.And what he discovered is that a very large proportion of themhad roommates who were also in the Democracy Movement.This suggested to him, and to other scholars,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that being in close contact with friends and neighborsand coworkers who are in a movementis an important factor that draws people into the movement.The third thing that social movement scholars consideris life course.Life course means the things thathappen at different stages of your life.You could be in college, and that's one stage of your life.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: You could be a working adult. That'sanother stage of your life.Or you could be a retired adult, and that'sanother stage of life.What a number of scholars have discoveredis that there are certain moments in your lifewhich make it particularly easy for social movementsto draw you out.For example, college students.Early in one's life, people have a lot more flexibility
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: in terms of schedules, time, and opportunities.Therefore, a lot of social movementstarget people who are in college because they'remore flexible in terms of their time.Similarly, a lot of social movementstarget people who are a little bit later in their life course.A lot of retired people will appear at protest movementsbecause they no longer have a job.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: And their children are almost certainly in collegeand no longer need their personal support.So in considering why certain people aredrawn into the movement, scholars usuallythink about yes, ideology and attitudes,that's certainly a factor.But more importantly, having a close contactwith the movement, and having the time and flexibility
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: in your life to take up a major undertaking.An extremely important question about social movementsis how they operate.How does one actually organize a protest?Why does the protest not just fizzle after a few days?One of the biggest insights that sociologistshave had about social movements is that they
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: have a deep infrastructure.There are many organizations thatare responsible for organizing protests, recruiting people,and executing the strategy.[Tactics and operation]Protests are often staged by professional social movementorganizations that have professional staff whospend most or all of their time developing the strategy,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: developing the message for the protest,and getting people to the protest,and helping people who may be arrestedduring the course of the protest.One question we can ask about social movementsis about their tactics and ideology.We can ask, why is it that some social movements resortto violence, and others do not?Usually, when people think about the repertoire, or the menu
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: of tactics that a social movement uses,we usually think that it is due to their ideology.For example, in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s,they explicitly adopted an ideology of nonviolence.And for that reason, the Civil Rights Movementoften used tactics that emphasized nonviolence.These include marches, sitting in at lunch counters,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: and nonviolent petitioning of government and corporations.In contrast, there are other movementsthat do not see themselves as nonviolent,and actually actively espouse violence.Perhaps the most famous is the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917when communists attacked the monarchy of Russiaand toppled it using an army or a group of armed partisans
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that they had organized.Another aspect of group's ideologythat affects their tactics is how they see themselvesin relation to the mainstream.For example, some groups actively see themselvesas distant from the mainstream.For example, Occupy Wall Street activelysees themselves as separate from the two political parties that
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: dominate the United States government.They see traditional partisan politics as corrupt,and any interaction with the mainstream partieswould contaminate Occupy Wall Street.In contrast, there are other social movementsthat see themselves as an extension or some integral partof the political system.So the Tea Party, for example, sees
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: themselves as closely aligned with the Republican party.And this relationship with the mainstreamof the political system helps determinewhat tactics they use.Occupy Wall Street does not endorse candidates for Congressbecause they see themselves as separate from mainstreampolitics.In contrast, Tea Party activists are routinelylobbying and pressuring political candidates.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: And in 2010, many Tea Party activists ran for Congressand won.So in addition to thinking about violence and nonviolence,there are tactics that reflect howsocial movements see themselves in relationship to others.Perhaps the most important question onecan have about social movements is outcomes.Does it matter?
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Why should we think that going to the street with some signs,or sitting in at a lunch counter,will result in the social change that a protestmovement desires.This question has been studied a great deal by scholars.Perhaps the most famous example is William Gamson's TheStrategy of Social Protest, which was published in 1975.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Professor Gamson examined a random sampleof interest groups that appeared in the New York Times.And for each group that he found,he looked at their ideology, whattheir issue was, and more importantly, whattactics did they use.There are some organizations that merely demanded change.They said, please lower or raise my taxes.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Then there are other groups that took to the street.Please lower my taxes or we'll do a sit-in.And he asked the question, what is a better predictorof getting what you want?It turns out that going to the streetis a big predictor of whether you doget what you want in protest.In my own research, I was interested in the history
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: of the black student movement of the 1960s.One of the things they demanded from universitieswere black studies programs.These were educational programs thatwere designed to teach and do researchabout African American culture.Black student protesters believed that, at the time,the curriculum of universities was racist.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: There is too much of an emphasis on European culture,and not enough emphasis on African or AfricanAmerican culture.In order to remedy this, they demanded courseson black studies and entire departments.One thing that I found in my researchwas that nonviolent protest was the most effective typeof protest.This suggests to me, and has suggested to other scholars,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that the type of protest you use is also a factor of whether youget what you want in protest.In addition to the type of tactic that you use,it's also important for a social movementto be consistent with public opinion.Social movements that appeal to American valuesare typically more successful than social movementsthat attack American values.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: In other words, if you want people to help you out,what you need to do is to appeal to their currentlyexisting beliefs and ideologies.And a final factor that helps with social movement successis having the help of insiders.Social movements usually can't do it by themselves.For example, if they would like a law to be passed,
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: they need the help of Congress.If they would like corporations to changehow they do manufacturing, for example,they need executives on their side.And for that reason, social movementsthat succeed, that get their laws passed,that get their policies changed, and thatchange public opinion, almost alwayshave the help of people on the inside.
DR. FABIO ROJAS [continued]: And that is one of the reasons that insider help is veryimportant for social movements.
View Segments Segment :
Dr. Fabio Rojas examines why and how social movements evolve. Using examples from several American and international movements, he discusses ideology, tactics, recruitment, and outcomes.
Dr. Fabio Rojas examines why and how social movements evolve. Using examples from several American and international movements, he discusses ideology, tactics, recruitment, and outcomes.