Week 11 Lecture: Starting Points Ch. 16

Estimated Reading Time: 00:08:17

Voluntary Associations and Social Movements

“When I fist saw you, it’s winter; now it’s winter too.”
Aww Teppy getting all sentimental ❤

“This is ultimately what sociology is about — it’s about what people can accomplish when they get together.” -Teppy

*Lean In* — book by ? from Facebook — career women are limited in how they think.
Teppy’s wife think that the argument above is stupid.

What are we looking for in life?

Ordinary people make history.
Is history made by heroes and prophets?
We are all making history.

What do people want?
— Happiness.
Everyone is in search for happiness.

There are a lot of people who believe that happiness is in buying stuff.
We need to understand — what gives people happiness?

Jeffery Sachs did happiness research.
Humanity would be much happier if
-it focused on alleviating poverty and sickness int he developing world
-instead of focusing on increasing economic output in rich and emerging countries.

Who are the happiest?
-Canadians are among the happiest people on the planet.
-Top prize goes to Scandinavians.
-Most equal people are most happy, it seems.

Happiness does not lie in consumerism. Or environmental destruction.
Economic development doesn’t [necessarily] make you happy and destroys the planet in the process.

“Family life is extraordinarily important to people’s mental well-being.” – Teppy

Estimated Reading Time 00:08:17

Society is a cooperative enterprise
-We work together to further our own interests
-In doing so, we further our collective interest
Beyond that, we adhere to collective values and commitment to a larger entity — ie. society
Shared, mutually rewarding histories of life together are effective sources of control

“It’s a really complicated thing! But that’s what sociology is about. I hope that’s not news to you.” -Teppy

Voluntary associations and social movements bring most change
-voluntary association
(A group formed by voluntary membership)
-social movement
(Organized grope of people with an agenda or plan for social change, to be achieve through agitation and political pressure)

Voluntary associations and sociability
-voluntary associations contribute to social integration
-promote familiarity, common goals, shared experiences
-sociability, pure play, is a basic human desire

“One good thing about voluntary association is that it gives people opportunities to meet strangers.” – Teppy

“Sociability is about fun. Fun is really good. You probably are not having a lot of fun going to U of T. Maybe the fun people are not in class today. You guys are the non-fun people. ;p” -Teppy

Concerns about the decline of civil society through cocooning
-civil society — the society that depends on play and altruism, on clubs, support groups, and voluntary associations
-Has civil society gone into decline?
-Evidence of “cocooning”: going home every night and isolating the world from you

*Bowling Alone* (2000) by **Robert Putnam:**
-Since 1950, there has been a general decline in active civil participation
-most obvious in strong signs of political disengagement
-also, underline of participation in clubs and charities
-People are more isolated and fragmented and communities lose “social capital” and social cohesion
-Putnam credits change to the effects of modern technology

-The popularity of league bowling in the US reached a peak for men in the 1960s
-now in decline
-more people bowl alone

-Have seen similar declines in other activities

-In the last 35 years, there has been a steady decline in home entertaining and dinner parties
-the evidence is still out on this
-why should a decline in voluntary associations matter?

“Bowling, dinner parties, political participation, they are all part of the same thing — the deterioration of society.” -Teppy

The benefits of voluntary associations
-“Schools for society”

Familiarity breeds trust
-Familiarity and sociability are important sources of tolerance
-People work best together under non-competitive conditions
-e.g. Teams, bands, and gangs
-Trust in key to social order, cooperation, and democracy
-voluntary associations promote trust

Trust through voluntary associations
-Social norms are transmitted and shared through networks of connected groups
-Shared norms help to increase the national level of generalized trust

Milgram’s small world and networks
“Brokers” link strangers to one another, increasing general trust

The history of social movements
Social movements evolve
-in 18th and 19th centuries, most were poorly organized and targeted local issues
-lacked resources
In the Early 20th century, they developed more complex division of labour and targeted the most pressing social issues
-economic equality
-political representation
-redistribution of wealth

Robinhood: reliant on a particular individual; no particular agenda; no particular plan

Social movements are everywhere
-social change has been occurring at an unprecedented rate in the past few decades
-environmental movement
-feminist movement
-anti-free trade movement
-black power movement
-gay and lesbian movements

Social movements have different kinds of goals
-Revolutionary social movements are aimed at changing everyone radically
-other social movements focus on limited goals or limited populations

everyone and radical: revolutionary
specific and limited: alternative
specific and radical: redemptive
everyone and limited: reformative

“Social movements can be focused on sects. Not sex. Sects. S-E-C-T-S. Religion sects, etc.”

All social movements pass through stages of change.
-a build-up of stress
-public awareness of a problem, a trigger event, and
-public opposition to power-holder policies

“The thing that most makes sociologists insane is the argument that ‘you can’t conclude anything; everyone is different.'” – Teppy

All social movements bureaucratize after obtaining enough resources
-Recall Weber’s discussion of the routinization of charisma in religion
-Not all social movements succeed, but they all bureaucratize

Stages of social movements:
emerge->coalesce->bureaucratize->cooptation/repression/go mainstream/failure/success->decline

One theory of movements: the breakdown of social order
-According to functionalists, social movements emerge when widespread changes have reduced social cohesion
-Social movements are an attempt to restore order
“Breakdown theory”
Implies that social movements are irrational

“Resource mobilization theory”
-Social movements are attempts to fight inequality
-inequality is always present
-tools to combat inequality vary

Joseph Gusfield: *Symbolic Crusade* (1986)
-prohibition movement in the US
-The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) sought nationwide “moral” improvement

Prohibition was a “status war”
-success would confer status on the WCTU and its members: small-town WASPs
–traditional moral authority was being threatened by industrialization, urbanization, and immigration
-battle for prohibition shows importance of
–expressive politics and well as instrumental politics
–status politics as well as class politics

You would have expressive politics vs. instrumental politics.

Identity politics
Through 19th/20th century: Marxists think politics was about class conflict.
But increasingly we think that politics is about status warfare.

The role of ideology in social movements
–a way of perceiving reality
–an agenda for social, political, or economic action
-ideology is “dominant” when support by powerful groups
–also, when it supports the status quo
-a counter-ideology is opposed by powerful groups and opposes the status quo

Ideologies have multiple roles
-in relation to underlying inequalities of society,
–reformist ideologies identify and attempt to reduce them
–radical ideologies attempt to erase them
-Ideologies can dispel “false consciousness”
–a view of the world out of sync with objective reality
–i.e., ideologies can be empowering and educational

Ideologies mobilize political action
-reformist ideologies call for minor changes to society, and keep basic rules the same
-e.g. Canadian policies of Medicare, welfare, and old age assistance
–not intended to bring equality
–only intended as “safety nets” for the most vulnerable

“Believe it or not we are nearing the end. What would you do if you don’t have somebody talking fast at you?” -Teppy

-Identity politics — a substitute for class-based politics
-concerned with the welfare of particular kinds of people
-goals: equity, dignity, cultural recognition

The Women’s movement: a triumph of identity politics
The women’s movement has increased equity, dignity, and cultural recognition for women
-has also increased their participation in the public sphere
has it increased solidarity among women?
-too many different kinds of women
Has it been inclusionary for males?
-varies from group to group

Movements and parties
-Some movements turn into political parties or are co-opted into existing political parties
-e.g. Green parties
When movements become parties, goals change somewhat
-concern with trying to win and keep political power
But there is no Woman’s Party
-How have women fared in the political presentation of their demands?

Greater participation by women has changed political life only slightly
-Feminist perspective: the state tends to ignore women’s needs
-Does the increase of women in politics make a difference?
Mainly in Scandinavian countries with a social welfare tradition
There, women make a great difference in what is legislated

How to increase gender equality in Canada
Countries with proportional representation have more women in office
-higher voter turnout == more female politicians
But Sylvia Bashevkin notes Canadians are uncomfortable putting women in positions of power
e.g. media treats women with less respect

In Canada, women rarely hold the top positions
-women tend to hold lower level, less-powerful positions
-women only make up 22% of all MPs
-only one female prime minister in history

Impediments to women’s political participation and political success
-financial barriers
-lack of access to helpful networks
-opposition within political parties
-media portrayals of women

What do people want?
Much of the research sociologists do is guided by seven value preferences:
-life over death
-health over sickness
-knowing over not-knowing
-cooperation over conflict
-freedom of movement over physical restraint
-self-determination over direction by others
-freedom of expression over communication restraint

“If you are feeling frustration over this class, you’re probably experiencing communication restraint.” -Teppy

Why don’t (most) people get what they want?
-Aspects of social organization and culture limit people’s opportunities to get what they want out of life

EXCLUSION: people have different access to opportunities (discrimination/lack of credentials)
DECOUPLING: lack of information of social connections
SOCIAL DISABILITY: some people are taught to NOT compete
-This crippling socialization is *social disability*
-leads to lower performance

Your role in the end
think about what you have learned in the course
ask questions and don’t buy into other people’s bullshit!
help sociology improve the world!



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