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What are “new social movements” and to what exten
t aretheir goals helped or hindered by the internet
has recently gained a new meaning. When people refused to move in their protestthe world sat up and took notice. Occupy now stands for people who want change and aredetermined to get it. It seems every street corner; every lamppost and every green space
has been “o
upied” by pe
ople looking for change.
The world’s history is rife with social movements. Humanity has shown time
and time againtheir willingness to bond together and challenge the current system and strive for changenot only for themselves but for their community and the world at large.Feminism is credited with starting it off. When women took up placards to campaign for theright to vote and equal treatment a lot was accomplished.
If you think back to the “rebellious” 1960’s and 70’s that is exactly what you see, rebellion. A
huge counterculture formed campaigning for what they thought was right, usually against
the government’s views. People organised for civil rights, campaigned against war
andbrought attention to their issues and themselves. Their aim was to bring about change onpublic issues.New social movements are the movements of this counterculture. The break away fromtraditional religion and a move towards mysticism or spirituality is what the term
was first applied to. This move was in contrast to the rational modernsocieties it was popular in. Giddens (2006) explained
that people were “seeing anddeveloping new ways of life to cope with modernity”. People were not simple rejectingreligion they were experiencing a “transformation of belief.” P
eople now campaign forissues such as gay rights, the environment and anti-nuclear. Social movements of the lastfour decades are very different to how they used to be, they are different in methods,motivations and orientations and also in the sheer number of them.Movements vary in both size and approach. Some are giant gatherings of people openlycampaigning for their cause and others are just a select few individuals illicitly promotingtheir agenda. Then there are the counter movements, the most famous of which, pro-life,was spawned from the women
s rights movement. (Giddens 2006)Social movements are a reflection of the changing risks facing human society. Eachgeneration has a different war and we have taken ours into our own hands. So many newissues or risks: nuclear energy, fossil fuels, bio and Nano technology, GM food/ animals,cloning, robotics, flood the public sphere it is only natural that we see an increase in theamount of social movements (Giddens 2006).