Definition of Social Movement and Neil Smelser's Predictive Theory

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Definition of Social Movement and Neil Smelser's Predictive Theory It is not simple to present the satisfying definition of social movements. To clarify any confusion about this matter, I am going to give definitions of collective behavior and social movement; collective behavior is defined as activity involving a relatively large number of people that is often spontaneous and very typically in violation of established social norms. Social movements, by contrast, are organized and relatively sustained activities that have a clear goal in terms of achieving or preventing some social change. To search broader knowledge of social movements, sociologist Neil Smelser argued that there are two kinds of social movement. One is norm-oriented movement and the other is value-oriented movement. In this paper, I am going to focus on norm-oriented movement. Reform movements (norm-oriented movements) for the most part support existing social values, but they want to make macro-level changes in social norms. The civil rights movement is a good example. There was no attempt to change the set of dominant cultural values, which already included equality. Rather, the movement sought to change official norms that maintained segregation and institutionalized racism and then to change informal norms that supported the habitual racist behaviors of individuals. The movement made its demands for normative and behavioral changes on the basis of facts, supported by scientific and social sciences research results that demonstrated the falseness of certain long-standing beliefs held by many members of the society. Members of certain subcultures had more attachment to racist beliefs than members of others; thus, the pace of social change was faster wher... ... middle of paper ... be present for any kind of collective episode to occur or not. Even though if we can see all these determinants for outbursts when we study an event or history, it does not necessarily “predict” the actual possibilities of actual occurrence. In other words, even if we are able to name all the determinants in the context, we cannot predict actual collective behavior will occur; it just enhances the possibilities of occurrence. Let us assume that we are studying some event or situation, which is a kind of social movement. It is generally believed and referred as social movement. However, this event does not fit in all six categories of Smelser. Forms of collective behavior within different social context vary. To define and study collective behavior and social movement, therefore, we should consider every possible theory and explanation for more adequate answers.

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