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Classical Models of Social Movements and The Rise of Far Right

Social movements are a group of people organized and coordinated with a common goal

contributing to social change. The three main models of social movements include the classical

model, resource mobilization model and the political process model. Each of these models play a

major role in the formation of political powers among their group members as they engage in

extra-institutional conflict. In particular, the classical model of social movement supports the

idea that social movements are formed as a result of collective responses to a structural weakness

in the community. These responses have a psychological effect on the individuals participating

and those being opposed. The model emphasizes that social change within the society is

attributed to the systematic 'strain' on the social infrastructure of the existing political systems.

As a result of the strain, people develop frustrations and hostility and the need to make changes

through the use of social movements (Leslie 22-24).

The classical model of social movement focuses on the development and origin of social

movements by discussing the structural breakdown that contributes to social changes. It is

similar to a pluralist view of political power where many leaders have access to a pool of

resources. This model encourages sharing of power so as to avoid cases where one person is all-

powerful and overrules other leaders. It also highlights the psychological state of the members of

the movements as well as the development of beliefs in guiding the movement. The model does
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not prioritize political goals in its formation because they are not considered central variables in

the movement. In fact, the main goals and messages are outlined in the beginning of the

movement and modified along the way depending on the change in circumstances. Similarly, the

model uses collective responses through collective behaviors such as riots, revolutions, religious

revivals and cults. These collective responses are meant to bind the social movement through the

use of a collective model (Leslie 22).

Consequently, classical models of social movement have variations such as mass society,

status inconsistency, rising expectations, relative deprivation and collective behavior. Although

each of these variations has different characteristics, they share the assumption that strain in the

society is as a result of structural weaknesses. These strains develop from inconsistencies and

could result to high levels of cognitive dissonance. They also lead to collective action of a social

movement because of the weakening social and moral imperatives. Additionally, strains

contribute to an increase in the likelihood of rebellions, revolutions, movements and riots within

the society. The collective behavior of classical models insist that severe strains can result to the

emergence of social movements. Its general interpretation is that social movements are formed as

a result of structural conduciveness, precipitating factors, spread of a general belief, and

mobilization of participants, structural strain and operation of social control. (Leslie 22-23)

Examples of classical models of social movements include the 1960s Civil Rights

Movements and Gandhi's non-violent protests during the Indian Revolution. A major downside

to this model is that members are pathologized especially because of the frequent emphasis on

psychological tensions among them. Moreover, the model has been criticized for its dependency

correlation between collective protests and structural strain (Leslie 23). Some examples of

nations running under the classical model of social movement include the United States, Poland
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and Eastern Europe countries. These movements include the Gay Rights movement, Animal

Rights movement and pro-and anti-abortion movements (Ng and Wong 118).

The far-right rise in the United States has been associated with President Donald Trump's

views on matters such as terrorism, racism and the gay rights. The rise of far-right has led to

cases of individuals resisting through violent acts such as bombings and shootings. According to

an article by Polakow-Suransky, Trump's presidency has led to high levels of nationalism and

white supremacists, which directly affect the minority groups in the United States. This model of

thinking has led to unfair treatment of Islamic women who wear 'burkinis' in the beach. In fact,

innocent immigrants have been targeted because of the government's fear and xenophobia for

Islamic states. This has led to cases of animosity against the Muslim community by the far-right

populists. Some of the anti-migration policies imposed under Trump's leadership paints Muslims

as enemies of peace and civilization thus they are considered incompatible with the democratic

values of the United States and the West (Polakow-Suransky).

The exaggerations on Islam have been rebuked by writers, politicians and activist, who

understand how the rise in far-right is affecting the minorities. The conception of these fears is

based on Islamic extremists seizing power from the United States and holding the country

hostage. Such fears have contributed to Trump's administration's far-right leaders. Although the

U.S government is right about immigration creating more problems in the United States, they

ignore the major cause of these problems, American leaders. This has led white supremacists to

hide behind American politics while they cheer on far-right models of leadership and openly

encourage hateful remarks about African Americans, Mexicans and Muslim communities.

Additionally, the cultural and demographic anxieties have contributed to the rise in far-right as
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political leaders claim that they cannot restore America with refugees and immigrants in the

country (Polakow-Suransky).

In his leadership, Trump has mimicked the classical model of social movements through

the far-right rise. To begin with, the United States government works in a way that political

power is not possessed by one person in the government. This same law applies to President

Trump, who can be overruled by the courts, the constitution and the senate of the United States.

Although the distribution of power is not equal on all levels of the government, Trump mimics

the classical models of social movement in his leadership. In particular, he has made use of the

collective behavior theories where social movements are emerging from his administration's

support of a topic or a condition within the society. The classical model states that a stable

system can occasionally be disrupted by a structural strain that leads to social movements. This

has been evident under Trump's leadership where minority groups have arranged protests against

the government's laws of oppression (Polakow-Suransky).

Trump's administration has also mimicked the classical model of social movements by

distributing varying amounts of power to different groups. For instance, the Legislative, Judicial

and Executive branches of the government have different political powers with different goals.

Despite their power in the government, there is no one entity with more power to control all

aspects of running the country without other parties' involvement. The far-right concept does

relate to the classical models of social movement because it occurs as a result of structural strain.

For instance, Trump has mimicked the model by using the assumption that social movements

such as the Gay Rights Movements and Black Lives Matter are irrational. As a result, he has

ignored the adoption of proper channels of negotiation and understanding the views of the

minorities. Additionally, Trump's leadership fit into the classical model of social movement
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because he creates conditions of racial tensions and structural strains which result to a growth in

generalized beliefs such as his outrageous remarks about African countries (Polakow-Suransky).

Trump and the rise of far-right leaders do not fit into the classical model of social

movement because they create hostile environments that support violence, riots and protests in

the United States. As the President of the United States, Trump has political powers to support

all Americans but he chooses to create structural strains by openly discriminating people from

African American and Muslim communities. Furthermore, Trump's administration has developed

a structural weakness in equality among all Americans thus resulting to psychological

disruptions among the minority groups and the formation of social movements (Leslie 22-24).

The Far-right does not fall under the Classical models of social movement because they

alienate people from other communities by denying them proper representation in the

government. Furthermore, attacks happening in the United States have seen Trump go out of his

way to openly banish immigrants and Islamic States, however when hate crimes against minority

communities, such as Blacks, Indians and Muslims, occur he has nothing to say. His lack of

recognition for his role as a leader for all people results to structural strains and creates a rise in

far-right and white supremacies in the United States. This leads to the inequalities in sharing of

political power and resources across the United States.

Work Cited

Leslie, Agnes Ngoma. Social Movements And Democracy In Africa. Routledge, 2012. Print.

Ng, Michael H. K, and John D Wong. Civil Unrest And Governance In Hong Kong. Taylor &

Francis, 2017. Print.
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Polakow-Suransky, Sasha. "Opinion | White Nationalism Is Destroying The West."

N.p., 2017. Web.