This emergence of a movement. 2. The Popular

This stage can also be called ‘the unrest stage”. In this stage we find some confusion or discontentment among people. Hence they are restless. In fact, as N.J. Smelser has pointed out “All social movements begin with some feeling of discontent with the existing social order…” Discontent is always a product of a relationship between objective conditions and ideas about those conditions.

If all the members in a society feel satisfied about everything, there is no chance for any social movement to emerge. The very presence of a movement indicates that people are dissatisfied with something or the other.

More dissatisfaction or feeling of deprivation or restlessness along does not lead to a movement. People should believe or should be made to believe that these deprivations are man-made and they can be effectively tackled through collective actions. Only then, the stage is set for the emergence of a movement.

2. The Popular Stage:

In the popular stage the movement begins to rally around a figure or a leader who promises to alleviate the sufferings of the people. This leader may be a charismatic leader with some extraordi­nary qualities who is capable of giving a leadership to the movement.

He may speak of reform, revolution, resistance or express himself in such a way that the followers are made to feel that he will do something or the other to find solution to their problem. If the message of the leader is appropriate and very much appealing people would definitely rally around him.

3. The Formalisation Stage (The Stage of Formal Organisation):

This is the stage in which programmes are developed, alliances are forged, and organisations and tactics are developed. In this stage, a party, organisation, or group of individuals may put forward an alternative vision, world-view or ideology, to understand, analyse and solve a prevailing crisis. Once the ideology gains acceptance among people, efforts must be made to translate it into a programme which calls for collective action. This leads to the birth of the movement.

Not all the times movements are launched by the charismatic leaders. Very often they are sponsored, supported or spearheaded by some organisations. The deprived collectivity may realise the necessity of forming an organisation to strengthen their position.

The already existing organisation may also take up the cause of the masses and head the movement.

The ideology is usually used to sustain the organisational set up. But the success of the movement demands the organisation to function more as a movement, and less as a rigid formal structure. For some reason or the other, people may lose faith in the charismatic leader and incline towards an organisational leader.

4. The Stage of Institutionalisation of the Movement:

If the movement becomes successful, then it destroys itself in its last stage of development when it becomes an institution. “At this point, it is no longer collective behaviour, because it is organised, follows accepted norms of society, and has replaced its emotional base with the assump­tion that change will take time” (Wallace and Wallace).

When once, it assumes this stage the insti­tution tries to bring down the wrath of the people and assures them that things would become normal in due course. With this, the active life of the movement may come to an end.

In the stage of institutionalisation, as Horton and Hunt have pointed out, the movement almost becomes routinised. They have said that in an institutionalisation stage, “as organisations take over from early leaders, bureaucracy is entrenched, and ideology and programme become cystalised. Often ending the active life of the movement”.

5. The Dissolution Stage:

Horton and Hunt have spoken of the last stage of social movement namely, ‘the dissolution stage’. When the movement becomes an enduring organisation (like the Indian National Congress, or the Y.M.C.A.) or fades away, possibility to be revived sometimes later, it can be said to have entered this last stage of dissolution.

According to Horton and Hunt, this “like-cycle fits poorly the expressive and migratory move­ments but is more applicable to the Utopian, reform, revolutionary, and resistance movements”.

Conditions of a Successful Social Movement:

All the social movements do not become successful in achieving the target. Sociologist Abel (1937) has spoken of some conditions which, if satisfied, would contribute to the success of the movement.

1. Many individuals must experience the events which are perceived as a threat;

2. The reaction to the events must be a strong and emotional dissatisfaction;

3. Personal values must be involved;

4. There must be some object which becomes the focus of dissatisfaction and opposition of the movement.


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