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Assess sociological explanations of the rise of new social movements in recent years

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Introduction

Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of the rise of new social movements in recent years There are a various amount of sociological explanations for the rise of new social movements, with arguments from sociologists like Cohen & Rai and Giddens. They offer conflicting ideas that aim to suggest why new social movements have risen, which solidify arguments made in Item A. New social movements are similar to pressure groups. Hallsworth sees new social movements as political movements that have emerged since the 1960s and that challenge the established order of capitalist society, whereas Coxall "argues that the 1960s and 1970s witnessed an explosion of pressure group membership". They are classified as any social movement that emerged since the 1960s. New social movements deal with a new range of issues and do not wish to be absorbed into the established political system. They do not seek power and are interested in influencing government decisions and finding different ways of organising political activity. ...read more.

Middle

New politics involves a volatile electorate without strong class identities. There is a greater concern with moral issues than with sectional interests, a suspicion of leaders and elites, a move away from concentration on state activities, and a politicisation of culture and lifestyle. The move to the new politics is a result of class decomposition (members of the same class become increasingly different to one another) and social differentiation (those with similar backgrounds develop different lifestyles). This change in emphasis of politics has encouraged the growth of new social movements because they appeal to people's moral principles, as well as their lifestyles. While Crook et al identify some important trends, they may exaggerate them as many sociologists deny that there has been a decomposition of classes. There are many neo-Marxist arguments that attempt to explain why new social movements have risen. Habermas states that new social movements have risen because they take on issues that the government traditionally do not, such as human and animal rights. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Giddens does not go into detail about issues such as the background and objectives of those who join new social movements, and the way they are organised. Klein claims that global capitalism is responsible for the alienation fuelling an emerging global anti-corporate movement. She identifies five marketing strategies adopted by global corporations; logo inflation, sponsorship of cultural events, sport branding and sponsorship, the branding of youth culture and the branding of identity politics. As a result of the activities of global corporations (child labour of Nike for example), young people have lost faith in their governments, believing them to have colluded with global companies to the detriment of the developing world. They now want a different regime to represent them and new social movements offer an alternative way to challenge the state and big businesses. In conclusion, many changing social and political contexts have related to the rise in new social movements. People are looking for new ways to gain identities and voice their opinions about social issues, and new social movements are increasingly becoming that vehicle for those messages to be spread. ...read more.

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