Definition of Social Movement
(noun) A collective action by a group of people with a shared or collective identity based on a set of beliefs and opinions that intend to change or maintain some aspect of the social order.
Types of Social Movement
Social Movement Pronunciation
Syllabification: so·cial move·ment
- American English – /sOH-shuhl mOOv-muhnt/
- British English – /sOH-shuhl mOOv-muhnt/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈsoʊʃəl ˈmuvmənt/
- British English – /ˈsəʊʃəl ˈmuːvmənt/
- Plural: social movements
- Social movements are studied in social movement theory.
- A social movement organization (SMO) is a formal component of a larger social movement, such as Greenpeace, a SMO in the environmentalism movement.
- A social movement industry exists when several SMOs work independently or together for similar purposes, such Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which all advocate for the environment.
- The combination of all SMOs regardless of objectives is the social movement sector.
- A “call to action” in a social movement is called motivational framing.
- Also called:
- “These days, most of use take birth control for granted. But that’s only because feminists fought so hard for it since the beginning of the last century. Margaret Sanger, one of the pioneers of the birth control movement, was arrested for passing out a leaflet that told women how to limit—as if mere knowledge of birth control was a threat to the status quo, which perhaps it was” (Kaufman and Kimmel 2011:18)!
- “Feminism is a social movement that seeks equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of gender. When there isn’t equality of outcome, feminism wants to know why. It is a political perspective that uses gender to critically analyze power—who has it, who doesn’t, who abuses it, and why” (Tarrant 2009:3).
- Word origin of “social” and “movement” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Blumer, Herbert. 1969. “Collective Behavior.” in Principles of Sociology, edited by A. McClung-Lee. New York: Barnes & Noble.
- Cameron, William Bruce. 1966. Modern Social Movements: A Sociological Outline. New York: Random House.
- Cohn, Norman. 1957. The Pursuit of the Millennium. Fairlawn, NJ: Essential Books.
- Crossley, Nick. 2002. Making Sense of Social Movements. Buckingham: Open University Press.
- De Gruchy, John W., and Steve De Gruchy, 2005. The Church Struggle in South Africa. Minneapolis: Fortress.
- della Porta, Donatella, and Mario Diani. 2006. Social Movements: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
- Gamson, William. 1990. The Strategy of Social Protest. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
- Goodwin, Jeff, and James M. Jasper, eds. 2015. The Social Movements Reader: Cases and Concepts. 3rd ed. Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell.
- Klandermans, Bert, and Suzanne Staggenborg, eds. 2002. Social Movements. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- Melucci, Alberto, John Keane, and Paul Mier. 1989. Nomads of the Present: Social Movements and Individual Needs in Contemporary Society. London: Hutchinson Radius.
- Meyer, David S., and Sidney G. Tarrow. 1998. The Social Movement Society: Contentious Politics for a New Century. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Morgan, Edward P. 1991. The 60s Experience: Hard Lessons about Modern America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- Nash, June C. 2005. Social Movements: An Anthropological Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Smelser, Neil J. 1962. Theory of Collective Behaviour. New York: Free Press.
- Staggenborg, Suzanne. 1991. The Pro-choice Movement: Organization and Activism in the Abortion Conflict. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Staggenborg, Suzanne. 1998. Gender, Family, and Social Movements. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Staggenborg, Suzanne, and Howard Ramos. 2016. Social Movements. 3rd ed. Don Mills, OT: Oxford University Press.
- Stark, Rodney, and William Sims Bainbridge. 1985. The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival, and Cult Formation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
- Stryker, Sheldon, Timothy J. Owens, and Robert W. White, eds. 2000. Self, Identity, and Social Movements. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- Sutton, Philip W., and Stephen Vertigans. 2006. “Islamic ‘New Social Movements’? Radical Islam, al-Qa’ida and Social Movement Theory.” Mobilization: An International Journal 11(1):101–15.
- Tilly, Charles, and Lesley J. Wood. 2008. Social Movements, 1768–2008. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.
- alternative movement
- new social movement theory
- prognostic framing
- reform movement
- religious movement
- resistance movement
- resource mobilization theory
- social action
- social change
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Cite the Definition of Social Movement
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “social movement.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/social-movement/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
social movement. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/social-movement/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “social movement.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/social-movement/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“social movement.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 5 Jun. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/social-movement/>.