When one endeavors to study sociology within the context of our society, we must view it and assess it in relation to the social infrastructures that are already in place. This in no small way means that politics needs to be a contributing factor. This is even more relevant in the discussion of social movements. Often people or groups assemble and mobilize to create a social movement in direct response to a particular political issue. As such, we very much need to consider politics in our study of sociology and social movements, because politics dictates the conditions under which a social movement is founded or operating under. Many have argued that one of the key barriers faced by social movements today (and one of the main obstacles to positive social change) is the apathy, cynicism and political disengagement of ordinary citizens.
[...] We discussed how social movements challenge it and encourage people to take a more active role in collectively asserting their own rights. We based this discussion on the neo-liberal frameworks that are present in North America, but made reference to the global perspective. From this, it is clear that the forces of depoliticization have historically served as an impediment to positive social change as those isolated members of society have not taken part in them, however, as social movements are becoming better organized and more focused, this fact is changing, and these isolated [...]
[...] People do not join social movements as a way of compensating for their personal inadequacy as the mass society theory posits. In fact, this theory would be insulting to many who find themselves in the throws of a protest. That said it is important to note that not everybody who does engage in a protest is the same as everybody does so for their own personal reasons. One example of a personal reason that goes to further the thesis of this paper is that people become engaged in social movements because they know somebody else who is doing in in other words, they are becoming involved in the social movement because of the social network that they are already a member of meaning that they are not isolated to being with. [...]
[...] The way in which this depoliticization effects social movements is up for debate, as some theorists argue that the force of depoliticization causes people to get more involved in social movements, while other preach the opposite. In his book, The Theory of Mass Society, William Kornhauser argued that social changes, those brought on by the ever increasing private nature of our society, cause people to actually become involved in social movements. According to him, these societal changes create social ‘atomization' and feelings of alienation and anxiety' that make them likely to join or be recruited by social movements. [...]
[...] Thus depoliticization is a force that works against social movements and serves as a roadblock to the accomplishment of any real positive social change. We can look to the relative deprivation theory as another way of arguing that depoliticization works against positive social action. This theory is based on an observation that was made by Alexis de Tocqueville. He said that social movements often gain the most momentum when things are improving; and therefore it is not the isolated groups within society that mobilize and engage in social action, but it is those who are already involved, those who have experienced improving circumstances and are hungry to attain more. [...]
[...] No single person should be blamed for this depoliticization within our society; it is more the failure of our democratic system that has allowed for this to happen. We have all been indoctrinated in a commodity society, one that has an insatiable demand for consumer goods, and one where we never have enough. Commercial values have come to replace human values, and this has led us toward the private and away from the public thus fostering a sense of depoliticization among us. [...]
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