learning from social movements

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Is it possible to create a social movement? If so, how? I tried hard to answer these questions.


  • 1. Learning fromsocial movements Richard Smith Chief executive, UnitedHealth Europe Former editor, BMJPritpal S Tamber, Managing Director, Faculty of 1000 Medicine Rhona McDonald MD, senior editor at the Lancet
  • 2. Agenda What is a social movement? Examples of social movements Some comments from studies of social movementsnot too many Three stories of social movements British movement to abolish slavery A movement to counter football hooliganism among English football fans and create a positive culture among the fansPritpal S Tamber, managing director of Faculty of a Thousand Medicine Make Poverty HistoryRhona McDonald, senior editor on the Lancet What makes social movements work? Conclusions
  • 3. What is a social movement? No universal agreement on a definition The latest Chambers doesnt have a definition Heres one from Wikipedia, which might itself be described as a social movement. They are large informal groupings of individuals and/or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change. How different from political parties or campaigns? More informal than both Unlike political parties but like campaigns, they are focused on specific issues but usually broader than a campaign Under this definition the quality in health care movement would qualify
  • 4. What is a social movement? Charles Tilley (professor of social science at Columbia) defines a social movement as having three components 1. Campaign. A sustained, organised public effort making collective claims on target authorities 2. Repertoire. Using things like special purpose associations, public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, rallies, demonstrations, petitions, boycotts, statements to the media, pamphleteering, etc 3 WUNC (worthiness, unity, numbers, commitment) displays worthiness: sober demeanour, neat clothing, presence of clergy, dignitaries, and mothers with children unity: matching badges, headbands, banners or costumes, marching in ranks, singing and chanting numbers: headcounts, signatures on petitions, messages from constituents, filling streets commitment: braving bad weather, visible participation by the old and handicapped, resistance to repression, ostentatious sacrifice, subscription, benefaction Under this more operational definition would the quality in health care movement qualify?
  • 5. Two ways to get historical analysis of social movements wrongCharles Tilly 1. Search for general laws of how they work failing to recognise the impossibility of devising general laws for human affairs 2. See social movements everywhere I may have made both mistakesbut I dont seem to be alone
  • 6. Issues in studies of social movements It has become common to assume that social movements are crucial actors in social and political change. But few studies of effectiveness and how and why change is achieved There is no way to trace outcomes of such complex social processes without having robust descriptions and explanations of their operations. The problem of causality-- Did the social movement make the change happen or would it have happened anyway is huge and ultimately insoluble. Looking for general causes and invariant models is doomed to failure, for there are no such invariant patterns in social life. Giugni M, McAdam D, Tilly C, eds. How social movements matter. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • 7. Examples of social movements Abolition of slavery Civil rights movement Votes for women Environmental movement Peace movement Anti-apartheid Animal rights Temperance movement Anti-poverty Disability movement Gay rights
  • 8. Examples of social movements within healthcare Public health movement Anti-smoking movement Against unethical research: ethics committees Evidence based medicine Open access publishing Keep our NHS public Fluoridation Antifluoridation Quality and safety movement
  • 9. Abolitionism in Britain: the first social movement? Used Adam Hochschilds book Bury the chains. A wonderful inspiringbook and a rip roaring yarn 22 May 1787: 12 men met in a printing shop in 2 George Yard in the Cityof London determined to end slavery At that time more people were slaves than free The British economy depended on slavery Sugar, coffee, and rum, which people loved, depended on slavery Many rich men and institutions, including the Church of England, owned plantations worked by slaves Most members of parliament had close links to slavery Yet by March 1807 slavetrading was abolished in the British Empire Within a lifetime of when the men first met in 1787 slavery wasabolished across the world It cost the British 1.8% of the GDP over 50 years
  • 10. Adam Hochschild The men who successfully abolished slaveryinvented many of the techniques we now associatewith campaigns: national organisations with localchapters, campaigns writing to politicalrepresentatives, report cards on how thoserepresentatives have voted, investigative reporting,petitions, marches, badges, boycotts, logos, fliers,books of evidence with readings in bookstores,newsletters, use of the media.
  • 11. Learning from abolitionism The result was absolutely without precedentIf you pore over the history of all peoples, I doubt that you will find anything more extraordinary. Alexis de Tocqueville The men were deeply convinced that they lived in a remarkable time that would see [slavery] swept from the face of the earth. Adam Hochschild The campaign was the first time a large number of people became outraged and stayed outraged for many years over somebody elses rights. Adam Hochschild The abolitionists succeeded because they mastered one challenge that still faces anyone who [wants to make major social change]: drawing connections between the near and the distant. Their journey was full of dashed hopes and wrong turnings. Lesson: What seems impossible can be doneand in a comparatively short time Lesson: The leaders and the followers need deep belief Lesson: You need to make a connection between the issues and peoples everyday lives Lesson: The course is most unlikely to be smoothand may well look hopeless at some point
  • 12. Learning from abolitionism: a story of both remarkable men and the masses Remarkable man one: Olaudah Equiano The stench of the hold while we were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to remain there for any time, and some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air; but now that the whole ships cargo were confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Lesson: Powerful, first hand accounts of the problem are invaluable
  • 13. Learning from abolitionism Remarkable men two: Granville Sharp Unworldy, musical, godly, well connected including to the royal family 1


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