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Social Movements: The Environmental Movement Essay

1429 words - 6 pages

David E. Wilkins once said, “A critical element in nearly all effective social movements is leadership. For it is through smart, persistent, and authoritative leaders that a movement generates the appropriate concepts and language that captures the frustrations, anger, or fear of the group’s members, and places responsibility where it is warranted.” Social movements are defined to be basic avenues by which social change takes place in societies, often the carries of innovation that shape attitudes, define public issues, and affect social policy in a variety of ways. The theory is that in order for a movement to be recognized and supported by a large population of the public the campaign must be prepared to compete for the support of people in a multi-organizational field. Many activists who are part of social movements maintain relationships with likeminded people, doing so allows them to recruit through their expanded networks. There have been many campaigns for numerous causes in the past, such as the Agrarian Populism Movement, the Labor Movement and the Progressive Movement. However one movement that has remained successful and consistent is the Environmental Movement in the United States. Holding its title to being the longest running social movement, the Environmental Movement has been able to precede other established modern movements because of its historical development, diverse support system, and economic resources.
The Environmental Movement was established about 150 years ago, back in the late 19th century, and since then the organization has developed into a significant crusade. They began with the early conservation movement focusing on wildlife, the water system and soil conservation. Since then they have broadened their organization to include a group of ten different campaigns to ensure that their focus was not limited on one aspect of the world but all of them, including the food people eat and human activities. Their credibility is established based on their long lasting foundation, something that every social movement needs in order to become successful. A primary example of lack of development is the Labor Movement which was established in the late 19th century, early 20th century. Their main goal was to provide better working conditions for the people who were employed during the industrial revolution. Industrial workers were uniting to fight for better working conditions; they participated in revolts and formed unions. The problem occurred when workers were being replaced and the protection from unions was no longer necessary. Along with the change in demographics and culture there was a decrease in sense of community. The union lost supporters along the way, preventing them from reaching their full potential just as the Environmental Movement has. In order to remain strong throughout any transformation in society, organizations must be opened to expanding their research and thinking long term instead of short term. If...

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