Solutions to Social Problems

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In Solutions to Social Problems From the Bottom Up: Successful Social Movements by D. Stanley Eitzen and Kenneth Stewart, a light is shone on how incredibly powerful social movements may be. The United States has been no stranger to social movements and the influential leaders that have made them known. The novel describes in detail the various accounts that African Americans, women and other minorities fought for equal rights in the United States and even around the world. The first three chapters of the novel reveal a few articles that expand on a few of the major social movements in the United States and exactly how they have affected modern day. Direct action today may not always be as obvious as the actions taken during the early social movements but they are constantly present in our everyday life whether it is realized or not. It is clear through the reading that the actions during these movements were life altering for not only that time but for the future. The direct actions of our generation will shape those generations ahead of us.

In the novel the first three chapters introduce some of the most powerful and successful movements in the United States. The first chapter breaks down what a social movement is and how an issue can become a social movement. It also reveals why social movements are actually necessary for society. The chapter explains how people of the minority, whether it is race or religion or sexuality, have constantly fought with the oppressors of society for equal rights. It defines a social movement as the collective attempt to promote, resist or reverse change. It goes on to explain that the key to any successful social movement is ideology. The ideology provides the goals and rationale for the movement, brings together minorities for a common cause and brings the action to attention for all individuals who believe in the fight. The chapter also breaks down the three types of social movements. There are resistance movements which resist change, for example the anti-abortion activists. There are reform movements that want to change a specific part of society like women’s rights or gay rights. And there are revolutionary movements who are looking for radical and drastic changes like the situation with Fidel Castro in Cuba or the American Revolution. The chapter also reveals the steps of a social movement. The first step is to attract members for the cause; second step is to focus on the fight which usually takes place after an outrageous act is performed against the group. The third step is to become an organization, with leaders and roles for the members. The final step may or may not occur. The fourth and final step is to integrate the movement into society. This will only happen if the movement has been successful however. In the chapter Howard Zinn and David Meyer give both past and present day examples of successful social movements. Zinn looks into those who protested the war in Vietnam. He focuses on the May 1970 sit down protest where activists sat down in front of the buses deporting soldiers to make a statement. Meyer gives an example that more recently occurred. In January 2003 tens of thousands of people marched into Washington to protest the invasion on Iraq. Both Zinn and Meyer explain that even the smallest actions can change the world. By coming together and taking a stand it may make the government and the rest of society take notice and make a change.

The second chapter gets into more detail about some of the history’s most infamous and important movements. It focuses on the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights Movement and the Gay Rights Movement. The first article in this chapter by Taylor Branch gives an example of a peaceful protest during the Civil Rights Movement. In Greensboro, it began with black college students sitting at the white counter refusing to move until they were served, and ended up a nationwide action with groups all across the south imitating them. It...
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