Social Movements

Michael McCluskey

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online June 2012 | | DOI:
Social Movements


Scholarly interest in social movements, especially in regard to communication, has developed significantly since the 1960s, when ideologically oriented movements had profound influences on public and social policy. Communication is closely tied to the internal and external strategies of social movements as a means to attract and mobilize adherents and to amplify movement goals to a broader audience. The complexity of separately defining communication and social movements has created a literature that broadly encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, approaches, and theoretical understandings. From a communication standpoint, this means a mixture of interpersonal and mediated messages, oriented both internally and externally, that are meant to be persuasive or informative. Social movements can include formal and informal organizations, with even the formal social movement organizations being described with terms like “advocacy groups,” “interest groups,” and “activists.” The complexity of definition also elicits numerous disagreements. Is a threshold of size or influence necessary for something to be described as a social movement? Do large, professional organizations fit as part of social movements, or should they be considered something different? Does the breadth of interests represented in European political parties mean that those issues should be considered within institutional politics rather than as social movements? The questions point out the complexity of understanding the relationships among types of communication and types of social movements. The evolution of new information communication technologies has further changed the relationship between communication and social movements, spawning its own related but separate literature.

Article.  11409 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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