Because some countries do not
always give the appropriate rights to its people, people need to speak for
their rights, and revolt to get their voice heard. In the United States
particularly, protest, social movements and organizations played a magic role
in making American history. Movements fought to make sure our lives, and the
lives of our coming children are full of their unalienable rights, “Life,
Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as Thomas Jefferson said. Protest
is one of the rights giving by the 1st amendment that we need to
take advantage of when we think that a change needs to be made. With the help
of several factors such as public opinion and media, some social movements played
a big role in making America today by shaping policy and making new laws because
they are based on theories that give right to the people and that can be seen
in several movements from history.      

Protest and social movements were
able to get advantages in the past. Protest is defined in Oxford dictionary as,
“A statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.” In
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the right to protest government policies and
actions was considered the essential of free speech. Justice Brennan said that
the 1st amendment reflects the commitment, “that debate on public issues should
be uninhibited, robust, wide-open, and that it may include vehement, caustic,
and sometimes sharp attacks on government and public officials.” (Schwartz 54).
Therefore, it is one of our rights to speak against government policies if we
don’t feel they’re right or fair, and be responsible for our actions without
being afraid of the outcome, knowing that we do it for the right. Protest and
social movements were able to change public policy depending on multiple
variables. C. Euchner explaining Gamson research study of how protest affect
policy, “In a major study of political and social from 1800 to 1945, Gamson’s
found that almost half won tangible new benefits. Of the fifty-three
representative groups that Gamson examined twenty-six groups (49 percent)
obtained a favorable response in each of their major area of concern. Four
groups (7 percent) gained a few new advantages, and three groups achieved
ambiguous results. Twenty groups (38 percent) received no new advantages”
(212). This research shows how many groups actually got advantages depending on
their areas of concern and half of the groups won advantages is not a bad
statistic.

There are two variables that
control the change of policy: Public Opinion and Media. First, public opinion
is an important point that extremely affect the action taken by the government.
“Research on social movement political outcomes has been strongly criticized
for failing to account for public opinion in theories and models… One obstacle
is that polling firms do not ask about particular issues until they have become
important or salient” (W. Johnson and Agnone and D. McCarthy 12). It is
necessary to look at public opinion because the governments will not act if the
problem wasn’t really big and didn’t have big reaction from a lot of people.
The second factor can be the media attention, “Mass media plays an important
role in the policy process by focusing public attention on a particular
issue…or by raising the salience of a topic” (W. Johnson and Agnone and D.
McCarthy 12). It is so obvious that media has a powerful role of making an
event so big and let it has a lot of attention or making it look so small like
it doesn’t exist, and the huge attention to a problem is what is needed to get
a reaction from the government.

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There are several theories that
explain why movements were born and how they affect some movements in the
history of America. The first theory is the deprivation theory, “some social movements are
born when certain people or certain groups of people in a society feel that
they are deprived of a specific good, service, or resource” (SEN and AVCI 126-127). An example
would be, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. In 1993, American people were dissatisfied and angry
because of the crumbling economy and the high rate of unemployment, declining
wages and profits. They were demanding quick and an immediate action especially after the
policies; “Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act and the Revenue Act of 1932”
made by Hoover. C. Euchner is describing how
protest had a huge change, “Political and social movements played a major role
in spurring the most active period of domestic policymaking, Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s New Deal. The New Deal was extraordinary in all ways; protest was
only part of the political and social ferment” (212). In this example, the
people needed jobs, money so they fought for it, and as a result the New Deal
was a great solution for people’s situation, it helps the economy to be stable
again and fixes the unemployment problems. The 2nd theory is
Resource Mobilization, and it invokes the importance of the availability of
suitable resources in the birth of a social movement, and it says that when
some individuals in a society have certain grievances, they may be able to
mobilize necessary resources like money, labor, social status, knowledge,
support of the media and political elites to do something to alleviate those
grievances (SEN and AVCI 126-127) as an example would be how protestors
got the local governments to liberalize welfare programs. C. Euchner says,
“With little formal organization and money, activists in the middle to late
1960s pressured state and local governments to liberalize welfare programs…but
for the first time in American history, welfare was now understood as a basic
right.” (214). We can see here how protest and organizations had a major role
in making welfare rights available and recognized as a natural, and a basic
right based on little money they had as a resource. The 3rd theory
is Political Process, “this theory looks at the social movement in question to
that of the state – or the power of the government in charge. If the
government’s position is strongly entrenched and it also is prone to repressive
behavior, then the chances are high that a social movement might fail. If, on
the other hand, the government is weak or more tolerant of dissenting behaving,
then the chances are high that any social movement that is born might have the
opportunity to grow and flourish” (SEN, AVCI 126-127). As an example,
would be the feminist movements and how they got multiple laws passed. C.
Euchner says,” The modern feminist movement helped to produce profound
changes in public laws, social policy, basic economic relationship, and the
cultural landscape.” (214) a major result was the women’s the ten laws
passed on 1960s, and the seventy-one passed in the 1970s, here it shows the
movements when interacting with the government and its ability to change some
laws and creating some, the government was not weak but was for the people and
understood the right of the women. When observing all of those examples, we can
see that one common factor that helped to get laws and policies made is
protest, movements, and organizations. For this theory and for those reasons
social theories are born, making their goal is to fix the need of people. To
accomplish their goals, there are at least four ways that social movements used
to influence politics and to make changes, not necessary all the movements will
use those four ways: replacement, conversion, creation, and reconfiguration (S.
Meyer 173) the first way is replacement, and it is throwing a “rascal” out and
putting an ally in the office. The second one, is conversion, and it means
exposing an “obstreperous legislator” or
administrator to the power of movements’ ideas. The third way, is creating, and
it means creating a new policy, institutional setting, and a network to alter,
the composition of the policy network. The last one is that social
movements can reconfigure existing policy monopolies by establishing new actors
within them, meaning electing new people in the office that represent them (S.
Meyer 173-174). By knowing all of them, we can understand the way social
movements work and why do they exist and apply in different movements in
history.

As a result of all the protest and
the social movements made, this is what the Some possible affects that can result
can be; S. Meyer stating the actions that can be token by the policy areas, “Movements,
in conjunction with institutional political action, can produce increased expenditures
or regulations in an established policy area, such as welfare spending or environmental
regulation. Movements can also create new categories of policies, instituting
payments or other benefits to a newly recognized constituency” (171). In general,
movements and protest are likely causes new regulations and new environmental
regulations. There is a relationship of cause and effect between protest and law
passage and indeed, a growing empirical literature examining multiple stages of
the policy-making process suggest that women’s, civil rights and environmental
movements significantly affect the setting of legislative agendas” (W. Johnson
and Agnone and D. McCarthy 12). Here it shows how effective is the protest and
social movements in getting laws passed and creating laws agendas.

It is important to see the role of
all the people who make organizations and protest for their rights. They might
get bad reactions from their friends or people around them because they don’t
think that the problem is big enough to stand for it but they still fight and
speak and stand for what they believe in. Protest and movements work for
everyone, they won’t nothing but their right to be accomplished, and their
voice to be. Understanding the theories of how protest work and what for, can
give us a good sense why should we support protesting and movements and giving
it the credit for what laws we have. If we do not speak who is going to? If we
look closely to all kind of protest and movements that happened in American
history, we can see that some people got rejected or killed but for a good
outcome, for their freedom and for their democracy. 

Work Cited Page:

David, S. Meyer. The politics of protest:
social movements in America. New York: Oxford
University P, 2007. Print.

Euchner, Charles C. Extraordinary Politics: How Protest and Dissent Are Changing American
Democracy. Colorado:
Westview P, 1996. Print.

Johnson, et al. “Movement Organizations, Synergistic Tactics and
Environmental Public Policy.” Social Forces 88.5 (2010): 2267–2292. JSTOR.
Web. 13. December. 2017.

Schwartz, Martin A. “First
Amendment Protects Crude Protest of Police Action.” Communications & the Law 23.3(Sept.
2001): 51. EBSCOhost. Web. 13. December. 2017.

SEN, Anindya and AVCI, Omer. “WHY SOCIAL
MOVEMENTS OCCUR: THEORIES OF SOCIAL MOVEMENTS.” Bilgi Ekonomisi ve
Yonetimi Dergisi 5.1(2016): 126-127. The JKEM. Web. 15. December
2017.

 

 

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