Social Movements and Social Change

Social Movements and Social Change

Social Movements and Social Change

Social Movements and Social Change

Synopsis

This book of readings is designed as a supplement to a general social change or specific social movement text. It is thus intended as an important first contribution to bridging the intradisciplinary gap in sociology. The 14 previously published and original contributions brought together here are grouped under 4 main divisions: (1) the impact of change upon movements, (2) movement strategies for change, (3) the effects of movements on change, and (4) the consequences of effecting change. The editor has contributed an extensive introduction on the interrelationships of change and a concluding chapter summarizing directions for the future. By providing a broad range of movements and a number of different social contexts he has provided a highly stimulating selection of readings.

Excerpt

In 1915, an anguished Chinese intellectual pleaded with the young people of his nation to be progressive rather than conservative. For, he said, the world's progress "is like that of a fleet horse, galloping and galloping onward. Whatever cannot skillfully change itself and progress along with the world will find itself eliminated" (Teng and Fairbank, 1967:242). This intellectual was affirming the need for collective human action and the efficacy of that action for guiding social change.

The same thought has been echoed by numerous and diverse others -- from bankers to radicals -- and forms a central assumption of this collection of readings. That is, the present work assumes that men may act collectively (in the form of a social movement) and thereby affect the direction of social change. Moreover, whether any particular group of people act collectively will not affect the fact of change; it will only determine whether that particular group participates in and helps to shape the direction of change. This is not to say, of course, that the direction of change will be that which the collectivity planned to effect; nevertheless, the direction of change can be affected by collective action.

At first, it may seem trivial or self-evident to assert that social movements affect the direction of change. But two facts must be borne in mind: first, discussions about the course of history have often been . . .

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