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Marcela Ampon

October 23, 2013
SOC 256

Movement Analysis Essay

“Social movements are seen as efforts to control the direction of social
change largely by controlling a society’s symbols and self-understandings. This often
involves shaping or creating their own collective identities as social movements.”
(Goodwin & Jasper, 13).” Social movements have emerged significantly especially in
the United States. In the 1960’s, many theorists back then saw movements as a
“function of discontent in a society,” but moving forward to today, social movements
are seen more as a normal part of politics (Goodwin & Jasper, 11). During the years,
society has witnessed many successes within movements, such as equality and the
civil rights movement, but has also seen failures in others. Looking back during the
prohibition era, many can see the success and progression in the movement, but
also observe the fallbacks and discontinuations within their faction.
During the late 18
th
century and early 19
th
century, the Temperance
Movement began insisting to restrict and prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages.
They believed that alcohol was to blame for many of society’s evils such as severe
health problems, crime and murder. During the start up of the movement, the group
focused on moderation of alcohol, but after several decades their focus rehabilitated
to complete prohibition and abstinence of alcohol consumption. They saw alcohol to
be an American problem and believed that that “addictive qualities of alcohol were
too corrupting of an influence in any quantity.” (Nishi, 13).
Their focus was inspired by religious enthusiasm, democratic hopes, and
moral concerns. (Pegram, 3). Churchgoers who saw alcohol use as sinful and
immoral founded the group. Many women who were beaten by their drunken
husbands who felt like voiceless victims also migrated to this movement. Most
importantly any person who made voluntary pledges of temperance was welcomed
into the movement.
By allowing any person who followed temperance in the movement, the
temperance movement showed a great amount of inclusivity. By doing so, the
number of participants increased significantly causing issues to be more apparent to
the rest of the nation. This benefitted the movement and caused an increase in
consciousness-raising and caused more people to see the issues and join. This
correlates to the Women’s movement (Freeman, 24) and how they also obtained
inclusivity. Attaining this quality helps a movement increase in size and gain
visibility. Having more people helps a movement network with different kinds
people and obtain diversity within the group. By being inclusive and having more
members allows the group to collaborate and have a variety of different ideas and
inputs, which will benefit their movement.
The presence of alcohol in America had become an urgent public issue. It
became a major problem during the early years of the American republic between
1790 and 1830. Many men and women believed that alcohol had a damaging effect
on American society. Social disorder erupted due to excessive consumption of
alcohol. Families were neglected and abused. Crime, poverty, and disease
significantly increased. Corruption of police and public officials occurred and there
was a widespread of organized crime. Courts also became overbooked and prisons
became crowded.
In an effort to improve American society, the Temperance Movement in the
United States became a national crusade urging for the prohibition of alcohol
consumption. Temperance reformers joined religious organizations, women’s rights
groups, and other advocate groups that pushed for reforms in health, education, and
economic and social issues.
Puritanical religious organizations preached to their followers that drinking
is a sin. In 1913, the Anti-Saloon League sought the prohibition amendment to the
Untied States constitution. Temperance Leaders discovered that state legislators
alone could not enforce their liquor laws and regulations. Four years later, congress
submitted the Eighteenth Amendment to the states for ratification. In January 6
th

1920, the prohibition began when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect.
Women’s groups raised their voices in opposition to prohibition, primarily
through the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA) and the
Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR) (Pegram, 167).
The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) had been the fundamental force
in bringing about change in the excessive consumption of alcohol believing that it
would protect families, women, and children from the ill effects of alcohol. The
WTCU designed leaflets to teach the young generation about the harms of
intoxicating liquors from the earliest possible age. They increased its influence on
Sunday schools all over America, which caused a large impact on the children and on
all God-fearing parents. “The WCTU’s first major triumph was to compel all public
schools to teach a course on the evils of drink. Standard teaching practices included
demonstrations of little scientific value, but of startling impact” (Behr, 39).
All of these groups showed a great amount of consciousness-raising. The
groups would assemble and have discussions where these beliefs were created, and
agreed that these would be followed through by action and reinforcement. Their
strong beliefs and common values helped strengthen their movement and get closer
and closer towards their goals and mission. The consciousness-raising initially
started up with small groups such as religious groups and women groups coming
together and sharing their mutual concerns about the consumption of intoxicating
beverages. Consciousness-raising is usually facilitated in loosely structured, face-to-
face settings that are isolated from persons in power. (Hirsch, 97). Because of this,
members feel more comfortable and are able to genuinely express their opinions
and concerns about the issues.
The WCTU especially raised awareness by targeting the new generations in
hope to change the future of society. Religious leaders and politicians was also a
large part in spreading the issues, which made more people throughout the nation
change perspectives and see the dangers of alcohol. This massive support increased
due to the support of these authorities, which triggered effective consciousness-
raising. Usually it is difficult to obtain effective consciousness-raising with
hierarchical structured settings because of the problems with challenging
authorities (Hirsch, 96).

Most importantly, polarization played a key role during the prohibition era.
In the 1920 to 1933, the United States prohibited the manufacture and sale of
alcoholic beverages. Because of this, there was a great deal of social polarization
happening in the nation. There was segregation within the American society:
citizens who strongly were for prohibition, and people who were against the idea of
limiting their rights to alcohol.
In the political aspects, it was known that the Republican Party strongly
advocated and supported the ban of alcohol throughout the nation. Many religious
and faith based conservatives exists within the Republicans, and commonly
witnessed the evils of the drink. Democrats on the other hand believed that parts of
their civil rights were being taken when putting this ban. It was felt that they were
robbed from their freedom of choice because of the prohibition law. “The Eighteenth
Amendment is wholly out of harmony with the American ideals of liberty as fought
for by our four fathers” (Nishi, 187).
Many theories collectively impacted the prohibition era. Inclusivity,
consciousness-raising, and polarization influenced the ways in which the movement
progressed and grew closer to their goals. These group-based political processes
together are important factors on the mobilization of the prohibition movement.





References
Alcohol Problems and Solutions. 2013. The Eighteenth Amendment. [online]
Available at: http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/The-
Eighteenth-Amendment.html#.Uo6GqmQ-vmR [Accessed: 22 Nov 2013].


Behr, E. 1996. Prohibition Thirteen Year that Changed America. New York: Arcade
Publishing.

Goodwin, J. and Jasper, J. 2009. The social movements reader cases and concepts.
Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

Hill, J. 2004. Prohibition. Detroit: Omnigraphics.

Nishi, D. 2003. Prohibition. San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven Press.

Pbs.org. 2013. Prohibition: Roots of Prohibition | PBS. [online] Available at:
http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/roots-of-prohibition/ [Accessed:
22 Nov 2013].

Pbs.org. 2013. Prohibition: Unintended Consequences | PBS. [online] Available at:
http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/unintended-consequences/
[Accessed: 22 Nov 2013].

Westerville Library. 2013. History | Anti-Saloon League Museum. [online] Available
at: http://www.wpl.lib.oh.us/AntiSaloon/history/ [Accessed: 22 Nov 2013].