IAS: Social Movements Types

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Reform Movements

Reform movements are organized to carry out reforms in some specific areas. The reformers endeavor to change elements of the system for better. For example: Civil Rights Movement, Women՚s Liberation Movement, Arya Samaj Movement, Brahmo Samaj Movement etc.

Revolutionary Movements

The revolutionary movements deny that the system will even work. These movements are deeply dissatisfied with the social order and work for radical change. They advocate replacing the entire existing structure. Their objective is the reorganization of society in accordance with their own ideological blueprint. Revolutionary movements generally become violent as they progress. Example: The Protestant Reformation Movement, the Socialist Movement, the Communist Revolution of China.

Reactionary or Revivalist Movement

Some movements are known as reactionary or regressive movements. These aims to reverse the social change. They highlight the importance and greatness of traditional values, ideologies and institutional arrangements. They strongly criticize the fast moving changes of the present.

Resistance Movement

These movements are formed to resist a change that is already taking place in society. These can be directed against social and cultural changes which are already happening in the country.

Utopian Movement

These are attempts to take the society or a section of it towards a state of perfection. These are loosely structured collectivities that envision a radically changed and blissful state, either on a large scale at some time in the future or on a smaller scale in the present. The Utopian ideal and the means of it are often vague, but many utopian movements have quite specific programmes for social change. The Hare Krishna Movement of the seventies, the movement towards the establishment of Ram Rajya and the Sangh Parivar, the Communists and Socialists pronouncement of a movement towards the classless, casteless society free from all kinds of exploitation etc.

Peasant Movement

Peasant movement is defined by Kathleen Gough as an attempt of a group to effect change in the face of resistance and the peasant are people who are engaged in an agricultural or related production with primitive means who surrender part of their or its equivalent to landlords or to agents of change. The history of peasant movements can be traced to colonial period when repressive economic policies, the new land revenue system, the colonial administrative and judicial system and the ruin of handicrafts leading to the overcrowding of land transformed the agrarian structure and impoverished the peasantry.

In the zamindari system peasants were left to the mercies of the Zamindars who exploited them in form of illegal dues. The British government levied heavy land revenue in the Ryotwari areas. Peasants were forced to borrow money from the moneylenders and they were reduced to the status of tenants at will, share croppers and landless laborers while their lands, crops and cattle passed into the hands to landlords, trader moneylenders and such peasants.

When the peasants could take it no longer they resisted against the oppression and exploitation through uprisings. Peasant Movements occupy an important place in the history of social unrest in India though the aims and objectives of these movements differ in nature and degree from region to region. It is in this sense that these movements also aimed at the unification of the peasants of a region, development of leadership, ideology and a peasant elite.

Through these movements emerged a new power structure and peasant alliance. The genesis of peasant movements rest in the relationship patterns of different social categories existing within the framework of feudal and semi feudal structure of our society. In the post Independence period the nature and objectives of the peasant movement have changed to getting remunerative prices for agricultural produce, to increase agricultural production, to establish parity between prices of agricultural produce and industrial goods and to get minimum wages for the agricultural laborers.

Important Peasant Uprising

Some of the important peasant uprising:

  • 1770-Sanyasi rebellion
  • 1831-Wahabi uprising
  • 1855-Santhal uprising
  • 1859-Indigo revolt
  • 1890 − 1900-Punjab Kisan struggle
  • 1917 − 18-Champaran satyagraha
  • 1921-Moplah rebellion
  • 1928-Bardoli satyagarya
  • 1946-Telangana movement
  • 1957-Naxalbai movement

Women՚S Movement

The women՚s movement in India is a rich and vibrant movement which has taken different forms in different parts of the country. Fifty years ago when India became independent, it was widely acknowledged that the battle for freedom had been fought as much by women as by men. One of the methods M K Gandhi chose to undermine the authority of the British was for Indians to defy the law which made it illegal for them to make salt.

At the time, salt-making was a monopoly and earned considerable revenues for the British. Gandhi began his campaign by going on a march-the salt march-through many villages, leading finally to the sea, where he and others broke the law by making salt. No woman had been included by Gandhi in his chosen number of marchers. But nationalist women protested, and they forced him to allow them to participate.

The first to join was Sarojini Naidu, who went on to become the first woman President of the Indian National Congress in 1925. Her presence was a signal for hundreds of other women to join, and eventually the salt protest was made successful by the many women who not only made salt, but also sat openly in marketplaces selling, and indeed, buying it. The trajectory of this movement is usually traced from the social reform movements of the 19th century when campaigns for the betterment of the conditions of women՚s lives were taken up, initially by men.

By the end of the century women had begun to organize themselves and gradually they took up a number of causes such as education, the conditions of women՚s work and so on. It was in the early part of the 20th century that women՚s organizations were set up, and many of the women who were active in these later became involved in the freedom movement.

Independence brought many promises and dreams for women in India-the dream of an egalitarian, just, democratic society in which both men and women would have a voice. The reality was, however, somewhat different. For all that had happened was that, despite some improvements in the status of women, patriarchy had simply taken on new and different forms. By the 1960s it was clear that many of the promises of Independence were still unfulfilled.

It was thus that the 1960s and 1970s saw a spate of movements in which women took part: Campaigns against rising prices, movements for land rights, peasant movements. Women from different parts of the country came together to form groups both inside and outside political parties. Everywhere, in the different movements that were sweeping the country, women participated in large numbers. Everywhere, their participation resulted in transforming the movements from within. One of the first issues to receive countrywide attention from women՚s groups was violence against women, specifically in the form of rape, and ‘dowry deaths’

Backward Caste Movement

The Backward castes have been deprived of many social, economic, political and religious privileges. These people provided manual labor and the untouchables occupied the lowest position among the caste hierarchy. They were subjected to extreme form of exploitation. The colonial power accentuated the disparities in the distribution of economic power. The atrocities united the lower castes against the upper castes.

Some of the important backward caste movement which came up was Satyashodak Samaj and Nadar Movement which consolidated the masses along the castelines. E. V Ramaswamy started Self-Respect movement against the Brahmins in South India. The SNDP movement in Kerala was more of a reformist movement. In 1950s there was a widespread desire among the non-Brahmin castes to be categorized as Backward. Subsequently Backward Class commission was set up to look into the conditions and requirements of these classes. Mandal Commission submitted its report in 1980 recommending reservations for backward castes in educational institutions and government offices. However this move resulted in anti-Mandal Commission movement which resulted in large scale violence and many students lost their lives.

Dalit Movement

Dalits are the suppressed people at the lost rung of the cast-based hierarchy. Their inferior occupations and low levels of ascriptive status make them vulnerable for attacks at the hands of upper-caste people. The organizational efforts made by Dalit leadership for uplifting their status are known as Dalit movement. It is a protest against untouchability, casteism and discrimination faced by the dalits. Dalit movement indicates some trends of protest ideologies which entail the following-withdrawal and self organization, high varna status and extolling of non-Aryan culture՚s virtues, abandoning of Hinduism and embracing other religions like Buddhism and Islam.

Mahatma Gandhi in 1923 founded the All India Harijan Sevak Sangh to start education and schools for the dalits. Another most important dalit leader Dr. Ambedkar struggled to secure the basic human dignity to the dalits. The Mahad Satyagarh for the right of water led by him was one of the outstanding movements of the dalits to win equal social rights. The role of All India Depressed Classes Association and All India Depressed Classes Federation were the principal organizations which initiated a movement to improve the conditions of the dalits. These organizations aimed at improving their miserable conditions and to spread education among them. They worked to secure rights of admission to school, drawing water from the public wells, entering the temples and to use the roads.

Things to Remember:

  • Social change that occurs without being noticed by most members is called latent change.
  • Walter Cannon coined the term Homeostasis.
  • David Glass conducted the first study of inter-generational mobility in England and Wales.
  • To Pitrim Sorokin societies pass through three stages each dominated by a system of truth. The stages are ideational, sensate, idealistic. This theory is the example of cyclical theory.
  • To Herbert Spencer mankind had progressed from small groups to large and from simple to compound and doubly compound or in more general terms from the homogenous to the heterogeneous. This conception is an example of linear theory.
  • Giddings formulated a law of social change. He founded neo-positivist school.
  • Marx and Engels put forward a materialist variant of the evolutionary theory.
  • Herbert Spencer propounded the theory of social evolution.
  • MN Srinivas wrote the famous book social change in modern India.
  • Goffmann regards total institutions as forcing houses for changing persons.
  • Sorokin has written social and cultural dynamics.
  • The notion of order, change and progress are inherent in the concept of evolution.
  • Maine argued that societies developed from organizational forms where relationships were based on status to those based upon contract.
  • Saint Simon distinguished between three stages of mental activity-The conjectural, unconjectural and positive.
  • Cities and towns came into existence due to development of commerce.
  • Ogburn introduced the concept of cultural lag in his book Social Change.
  • According to Lester F Ward social change can be bought about by means of conscious and systematic effort.
  • David Aberle has classified social movements as transformative, reformative, redemptive and alternative.
  • Stouffer is associated wit h the theory of relative deprivation.
  • According to Toffler technology would bring about a reversal of trend towards mass culture distributed by television.
  • Clark Kerr is the author of convergence theory.
  • Everett Rogers categorized people as innovators, early adopter and larggerds on basis of their response to an innovation.
  • Tonnies proposed that human societies evolve from communities bound together by tradition to those characterized by nonemotional objectivity.
  • Sorokin is associated with the theory of variable recurrence.
  • Dalit Panther Movement emerged among Mahars.
  • Dalit Panther Movement is transformative movement.

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