The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.



Thesis statement: Protests positively contribute to the legislative success of social movements by raising public awareness and thereby the attention of elected officials responsible for enacting that legislation.


A protest can be defined as an unconcealed expression by reacting to certain events or situations by a group of people seeking favor in a specific sector due to oppression. It is usually done in public mainly to make there opinions known vastly and get supporters from the overall public and or the government. Protests can be peaceful or rowdy, depending on the group involved. Protests are usually directed at making certain changes maybe in an organization or in the current political arena or in any other association of people. (Lyman, 1995)

Rowdy and distractive protests results from restrictions from self expression by the government, religious organizations or other social groups. This leads to the trickling down of the protests to the streets. A counter protest is the kind of protest that is undertaken as a result of certain policies or a certain group wants to show their support for another. If protests are not addressed they lead to rebel, activism, mutiny, unrest, upheaval, and could even lead to the dissolution of the social groups. (Robnett, 2002)

The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.

Forms of Protests

Public Demonstrations

Public demonstration can be grouped into the following classes:

Protest match; this is a type of public demonstration that is peaceful. It involves a group of people matching in the streets carrying captions written the request they would like done. (Malden, 2009).

Picketing; is the kind of protest where people gather outside there place of work or outside a building in order to deter others from entering the building. It can also be done for general public attention.

Street protesters; involves the use of placards and boards that are hand made and screening them in the streets especially in areas of high traffic

Lock-downs; just like the name suggests it involves the protestor locking themselves in an area using chains in order to prevent access by others

Die-ins; this type of protest involves the protestors lying down maybe on a road and playing dead. They could use bandages and fain wounds and even lay placards on their bodies with the messages they want to pass. (Taylor, 2004)

The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.

Protest song; this is simply a song composed with verses that the highlight the problems that are to be addressed.

Radical cheerleading; this involves the use of already song usually used fro cheer leading and changing the words to encompass the ideas that the protesting group wants to pass across. (Welsh, 2006)

Critical Mass bike rides; involves protestors riding on bikes.

Other than the public demonstration, protests could be: written in the form of petitions and letters; civil disobedience; use of camps; destructive protests which involve riots, suicide and hunger strikes; Tax resistance and flag vandalism among others.

Social Movements

Social movements are informal groups that are formulated to focus on a certain political or social issue. They are formed to serve as resistance groups to enforce change in a political or social group. Most human rights have been pointed out as the reasons as to why most social movements have come. Some of these rights are right to freedom, the right to education and the right to economic development. (Staggenborg, 2008.)

Types of Social Movement

The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.

Social movements can be grouped according to there; scope, type of change, targets, methods of work, old and new, and range.

Scope: According to the scope there are two types of social movements:

Reform movements – these is a movement aimed at changing a specific standard an example of this is the trade unions.

Radical movement – they are aimed at changing a specified standard but they are more elementary in comparison to the reform movements. (Tilly, 2004).

Type of change:

Innovation movement – this kind of movements come up to encourage novelty to certain policies of goals.

Conservative movement – they are formed to maintain values that are becoming extinct with the day.


Group-focus movements – formulated to generally change groups and societies. Individual-focused movements – these kinds of movements pay attention on affecting individuals. (Morrison, 1978).

The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.

Methods of work:

Peaceful movements – this kind of movement do their protests peacefully.

Violent movements – they are the opposite to the peaceful movements do their protests with violence

Old and new:

Old movements – this kind of movements existed from time immemorial.

New movements – this are the latest kinds of movements


Global movements – this kind of movements influence the entire world.

Local movements – This kind of movement have a confined scope Multi-level movements – They have both in the local and global influence. (Bantjes, 2007)

The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.

Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements

To clearly show the effect that protest has on social movements, I will use the example of a movement in America that was very effective, and whose effects are still felt in the United States today. Before the civil war in the United States, slavery was a day to day activity. Men women and children were used at slaves and treated in ways that don’t concur with those of the human rights. (Bantjes, 2007).

The slavery was more rampant in the Northern part of the states. The movement was known as the Abolitionists movement. This is the perfect example of a social movement that brought a lasting effect on the lives of Americans. The Abolitionists Movement implemented their unsympathetic strategies and this is what ended slavery in the United States. (Taylor, 2004).

This movement all the types of protest measures from the peaceful, to issuing of speeches, to the violent demonstrations. This movement started by establishing a law that enslaved the people and then convinced the government to make slavery illegal. This movement led to the end of slavery in America. (Staggenborg, 2007).

The Women’s Suffrage Movement was another like The Abolitionists Movement. Very successful in the United states whose effects are ripped today. The grouped was aimed at giving women liberty, something that had been tried prior by many other women activists.

With an increase in educated women and males who supported women the movement was of big success. This movement led to the Amendment of several Acts that protected females and women and liberated them. (Robnett, 2002).

The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.

The women members were involved with speeches, marching, and they lobbied for the right to vote which was limited to males only. They were also involved in hunger strikes, hushed vigils and processions. By the end of 1920 women were awarded the right to vote by passing of an amendment. This right is still assured for women today.

Another successful movement that was brought about in 1937 was an effort known as AARP. This movement was formulated to cater for the elderly with the aim of enacting the Social Security Act. It aimed at catering for the aging in the society and to serve the era before the Medicare era. AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) began as the NRTA (National Retired Teachers Association). (Morrison, 1978).

The AARP is still strong and running today. Its membership comprises of individual who are of the age of 55 and above. It is a movement that has been of great influence in the United States and the elderly are now enjoying a better life after retiring. (Lyman, 1995)

All the above movements used protests for them to be heard. Therefore, protests positively contribute to the legislative success of social movements by raising public awareness and thereby the attention of elected officials responsible for enacting that legislation.


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The Effect of Protest on the Success of Social Movements.

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Charles Tilly, (2004). Social Movements, 1768–2004, Boulder, CO, Paradigm Publishers.

Denton E. Morrison. (1978). Some Notes toward Theory on Relative Deprivation, Social Movements, and Social Change." In Louis E. Genevie, ed., Collective Behavior and Social Movements. Itasca, Ill.: Peacock. pp. 202-209

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