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Distinguish between old Social Movement and the New Social Movement.

 Since last five decades, especially after the proliferation of the Black Civil Rights Movement in the West in 1950s and 1960s, students movements in 1960s and 1970s, Women’s Movement, anti-nuclear protests, gay rights, animal rights, minority nationalism etc. ethnic movements in 1970s and thereafter, social movements has emerged to be an area of special attention.  There have been sincere efforts by the social scientists to redefine social movements from a critical and cognitive perspective.

In this effort the prevalent schemes of analysis were questioned and many of the elements were identified in these social movement and at times several marginal issues were emphasized in a new contexts. The emergence of new forms of collective action especially in Western Europe and North America posed serious challenges to the social movement theorists to conceptualize this phenomena in terms of the prevailing discourse on social movement studies.

• Class based united to fight for rights.

• Anti-colonial movements.

• Nationalist movement united people into national e.g., liberation struggle.

• Movement against & colonialism.

• Nationalist movement mobilied against rule of foreign power and dominance of foreign capital.

• Mainly concerned with struggles between haves and havenots. Key issue is reorganisation of power relations, i.e. capturing power & transferring it from powerful to powerless, e.g. Workers were mobilised towards capitalists; Women’s struggle against male domination.

• Worked under guidance & organisational framework of political parties, eg. Indian National Congress led the Indian National movement; Communist Party of China led the Chinese Revolution. 

• Role of political parties was central and poor people had no other effective means to get their voices heard.

• Concerned about social inequality and unequal distribution of resources important elements.

• Decades after Second World War 1960s and early 1970s

• Take up not just narrow class issues but broad, universal themes, which involved a broad social group irrespective of their class.

• Vietnam were forces led by US bloody conflict.

• Paris – Vibrant student’s movement joined worker’s parties in a series of strikes protesting against the war.

• USA was experiencing a sure of social protests. Civil rights movement was led by Martin Luther King.

• Black powers movement led by Malcolm X.

• Women’s movement, environmental movement.

• No longer focus on redistribution of power rather are more concerned with improving the quality of life. eg. Right to education, clean environment.

• No longer confine themselves within political parties. Instead started joining civil society movements and forming NGOs because they are supposed to be more efficient, less corrupt and less autocratic

• Globalization – reshaping people’s lines, culture, media Firms – transnational. Legal arrangements international. Therefore, many new social movements are international in scope.

• Essential elements – Identity politics, cultural anxieties and aspirations.

A Irrespective of the distinction between the old and the new social movements we may identify the crucial roles played by social movements to develop a critic of the society. In the process of globalisation when the state is emerging to be more and more technocratic and all-powerful the voices and views of the individual citizen against the discontent of various forms remain mostly unheard. Again in the countries where the state represent the dominant section of the population, and the state machinery is involved in the corrupt practices, the access of the marginalised people even to the minimum need of the life remained unrealized.

Social movements provide a framework to develop a critic of the society. It brings the institutional arrangements of the society under close scrutiny. The organising mechanisms, collective activism and the leadership of social movement provide the required space not only to develop a critic of the society but also for a transformative politics within the given structure. It also provides the space for the emergence of plural social structure with representative civil bodies to function as watchdog in a liberal democracy. Through this critic social movement produces a new collective identity, Eyerman and Jamison (1991) have tried to define social movements as processes in the formation by which individuals create new kind of social identity.

To them all social life can be seen as a combination of action and construction whose meaning is deprived from the context and the understanding of the actors derive form it. They emphasize the creative role of consciousness and cognition in human action, what they call the cognitive praxis, which transforms groups of individual into social movement. Thus the cognitive praxis gives social movement particular meaning and consciousness.

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