Table of Contents
1. Introduction: What is a social movement?
2. What is a new social movement?
3. Alliance ’90/The Greens - An Example for New Social Movements
4. Microblogging as a post-new Social Movement
5. Table of Literature
The Civil Rights Movement in the USA, women’s movements all over the world, peace and anti-war movements, environmentalists, gay and lesbian rights groups... The rise and fall of various new social movements (NSM) can be observed throughout the last decades. But what is new about NSM compared to former social movements?
I will define NSM in contrast to former social movements - the German party Alliance ’90/The Greens will be pointed out as a special example of a NSM that became a party and therefore a political institution.
At the end of my work, we‘ll have a outlook at a post-new Social Movement, that is Microblogging and it‘s application area.
1. Introduction: What is a social movement?
Social movements are large informal groupings of individuals or organisations with a common interest, which focus on specific political or social issues to carry out a social change. They are distinguished from other collective actors by having (the threat of) mass mobilisation as their prime source of social sanction, and hence of power (Scott, 1990: 6).
Even if they vary by size, „they are all essentially collective" (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010). In contrast to individual strategies, individual needs and problems, social movements are the - more or less spontaneous - product of a defined conditions „shared by many as a public issue necessitating joint action" (Oberschall, 1997: 2). Beginning with a collective behaviour, the result is a social movement when „short-lived impulses give way to long-term aims" (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010). It takes measures to „pursue a collective solution by pooling their efforts and resources and coordinating their actions" (Oberschall, 1997: 2). Whether a social movement success or fails is depending on how many people join and how determined they are. (Oberschall, 1997: 3). When we talk about social movements we have to pose several questions, for example under what circumstances an issue becomes a public controversy and attracts supporters. Another question is the part played by leaders, and what lasting consequences result that wouldn‘t have otherwise occurred. All in all social movements play a very important role in the society. They "see themselves, and they are analyzed in contemporary political sociology, as involved in struggles over the definition of meanings and the construction of new identities and lifestyles, as well as addressing formal political institutions." (Nash, 2010: 87). According to Charles Tilly, „social movements create or activate paired and unequal categories, with an important twist: they deliberately emphasize the unjust treatment of people on the weaker side of the categorical line and/or the improper behaviour of people on the stronger side." (Tilly, 1998: 212). Tilly argues that there are four key-elements to every social movement: First of all, a social movement contains a campaign, related to an electoral campaign; however, the supporters in this campaign are „WUNC" that means worthy, unified, numerous and comitted. A social movement „demands righting of a wrong, most often a wrong suffered by a well- specified population" (Tilly, 1998: 213).
Social Movements in general and the the particular form of the New Social Movements are of highest importance for the contemporary political landscape. They shape the politics and "advocate a new form of citizen politics based on direct action, participatory decision-making, decentralized structures, and opposition to bureaucracy” (Handler, 1992: 719) - so to say a post-modern form of politics. In the following paragraph, it will be explained what these New Social Movements are, where they come from and how they developed to ultimately show their importance for contemporary struggle for power, both in society and politics, on an examples.
2. What is a New Social Movement?
"New Social Movements” are not new for us nowadays, but the paradigm linked to them was an addition to social theory in the late twentieth century (Pichardo, 1997: 411). Their value-added can be found both on a structural as well as on a personal stage as we see in the following. First, I will explain their upcoming in the late 1960s. Following an era of class-movements - especially in the industrial era captured by a Marxist logic - and of economic trouble, The working class was no longer the source of protest as in the pre-1960s era. The beginning of the NSM era in Europe can be set to the student protest of 1968/1969. Especially Paris, Berlin and Rome were the places of revolution.
The youth of the 1960s formed a counter-culture rejecting many of the values of American society following huge dissent. Their generation was a very large one growing up with all advantages one can imagine after the World Wars. Race was then the topic for the first protests in 1960. "Although racism was not new to American society in the 60s, students became less tolerant of it and the institutions which seemed to perpetuate it." (Churney, 2010: 1). In the beginning of the 1960s, the starting Civil Rights Movement was a movement of southern and northern blacks and whites supporting equality issues and wanting to fight racism. Another issue of the protest was the war in Vietnam: case of opposition to the Vietnam War, the small first-mover peace movement became bigger, reaching a wide segment of the population by 1965 and becoming a radical peace movement on college campuses. Within three years polls would show that more than half the population was opposed to the war. These protests were the beginning of a broad wave of protest - environmental, feminist, gay and lesbian, consumer, anti-nuclear and peace groups - affecting the democracies in most industrial democracies (Tarrow, 1989).