What Makes a Social Movement Successful : Leadership

7184 Words Oct 22nd, 2013 29 Pages
What Makes a Social Movement Successful: Is Leadership the Deciding Factor?
Political Science, Social Science Major (Class of 2012)
Virginia Wesleyan College

Social movements have a tremendous impact on our society and it is important that we understand how those movements are shaped. As individuals we are all part of a greater society and could be called upon to stand up for human rights. Understanding how to shape social movements so they have better chances of succeeding could mean the difference between a society that guides improved human rights and one that loses sight. There is a great deal of literature on social movements and it has become increasing popular since the Vietnam Era of social protest. The literature typically
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Start by narrowing the historical literature down into three main schools of thought so you can take a closer look at how social movements are born, why some succeed, and others fail. (Clearly, using a broad brush to paint a simplified scope of the topic, but this will help to centralize the data in a more digestible context.) The main schools of thought in this paper have been grouped in the following types of action: Collective Action, Economic/Political, and Leadership Centered.
Collective Action
One would assume that in order to get a better understanding of the causes for “social movements” you would begin with motives derived purely from social factors. A majority of the early academic research on social movements are based on theories rooted around the concept that “groups” themselves drive the dynamics of social movements. Most of the early literature points to Collective Action Theory as the foundation of the academic study of social movements. The Collective Action theory, as defined by Gustave Le Bon, in his book Psychologie des Foules states, that societies are formed by small groups of intellectuals who impose their will on the masses. Groups of individuals take on mental unity and lose the ability to think rationally and morally when they are part of the masses (Oberschall 4-5). According to Touraine, for a social movement to take place there are four factors that define the circumstances. First,

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