There had been many definitions for the term social movement, but in general, it pertains to campaign or action taken by a group of people in order to attain certain goal, which is either to initiate or resist a social change. Usually, a social movement serves as a vehicle for ordinary people to participate in national politics and air their sentiments as part of a collective voice of the people. Though social movements are at times associated with political parties, the two are not the same.
Political parties often only serves as a political alliance not really espousing a specific cause, while social movements focus primarily on the end goal that it wants to achieve. Early social movements, or what is termed as traditional social movements, are characteristic of being generally centered on concern with the economy and thus involves movements such as that of the labour movement of the working class, often following Marxist principles. Unlike these movements, the so-called new social movements differ to it in that they stand for a wider range of advocacy.
These new social movements include those groups fighting for women’s rights, gay’s rights, and the environment. This is said to have been due to the new members of the middle class, the intellectuals. With regards to its differences to traditional social movements, new social movements are disorganized, as it is more informal and the people inside it are more of supporters than members. But on the other hand, new social movements tend to last longer, with their issues more general and broad and not issue-based.
An interesting social movement is that of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines during 1986. It was a bloodless revolution against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, then president for over several years and terms already. The with The people gathered against a corrupt governemtn inspite of the threat, martial law, and media harrasment as the dictatorial government’s reply to the calls of human rights violation, election cheating, and other crimes against the people.
It was a time when the common people, the military, the church and particarly everyone in the Philippines united and voiced a single call that their president step down. That event was said to be the saturation point of the people, a point that they can no longer tolerate the abuses to their rights. So what happened is that the people went to the streets by themselves, answering to the church’s call that they protect a group of soldiers marching in the streets. The event was a successful one, with the president fleeing to another country for refuge and later being asked to answer for his crimes in the courts.
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