An account of what describes a social movement is accompanied by a description of the growth and theory of the model of the four phases of social movements. The four steps of development model can be used to comprehend how movements form, develop, and fades away. The design is extremely suitable in understanding collective action and offers a valuable frame of scrutiny for sociologists considering social movements and their consequences in the past and present. This article is concerned with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and what defines it as a social movement.
A social movement is not an interest group, nor is it a trend. Instead, it is somewhere in between (Freeman & Johnson, 1999). Social movements can be assumed as coordinated yet casual social entities that are involved in an extra-institutional struggle that has focused on a particular goal. The Black Lives Matter movement consequently befits this definition. The BLM is a global activist movement, emerging from the African-American society, that fights against violence and universal racism toward the black community. BLM frequently holds demonstrations against police atrocities on black folks and bigger issues of racial profiling, police ruthlessness, and apparent racial discrimination in the United States’ criminal justice system. The Black Lives Matter is a reform movement which pursues to change the perception of skin color in the social structure.
The BLM has been in three stages of a social movement. The first stage of the social movement life cycle is called the emergence or preliminary stage. In this phase, social movements are very introductory, and there is slight to no organization. In this stage, the public become mindful of an issue, and leaders emerge (Macionis, 2001). The movement began in 2013 with the usage of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The hashtag trended on social media, after the exoneration of George Zimmerman in the killing of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. Black Lives Matter movement became globally known for its street protests after the death of Michael Brown, ensuing in demonstrations and discontent in Ferguson.
Stage two is called coalescence stage. The stage has a more visibly distinct sense of dissatisfaction. It is no more just an overall sense of restlessness, rather a sense of what the uneasiness is about and people or reasons that are responsible. At this stage, leadership begins, and strategies for achievement are worked out. Mass protests may occur to show the social movement’s influence and to state their demands. The BLM Movement is a good example. After the preliminary emerging, the movement started a succession of high-profile operations, which pursued to highlight the dilemma of African Americans.
The third stage is called bureaucratization. This stage got defined as formalization (De La Porta & Diani, 2006). It got characterized by multiple levels of establishment and coalition-based tactics. In this stage, the social movements have had some achievement in that they have raised consciousness to a notch that a coordinated approach is needed across all of the social movements. BLM is an affiliate group of the Movement for Black Lives which was established to reply to sustained and progressively visible violence aimed against the black community in the U.S. and worldwide. The movement initiated Campaign Zero in 2015, aimed at helping policy reforms to bring an end to police brutality. The campaign issued a ten-point strategy for modifications to policing, with commendations including bringing an end to broken windows policing, raising community oversight of security departments, and making stricter rules for the use of force. The movement went from agitation and protests to partaking few official organizations that work in the direction of the goals of the BLM movement. The movement is still at this stage.
In conclusion, the model of analysis given by the concept of the four stages of social movements is a significant aspect of the growth of knowledge about public action. As social movements keep changing, so does the approaches used by sociologists in analyzing them. Investigating the four stages of social movements is a good way of comprehending how social movements emerge, grow, solidify, and fade away. The BLM movement identifies itself with the above characters; hence it is a good example of a social movement.
Macionis, J. J. (2001) Sociology (8th ed). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Freeman, J. & Johnson, V. (1999) Waves of protest: Social movements since the sixties. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
De la Porta, D. & Diani, M. (2006). Social movements: An introduction (2nd Ed). Malden MA:Blackwell Publishing.
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