Launching civil rights movements, participants feel deprived of their rights as members of a community. They are entitled to fewer privileges and take it upon themselves to fight for equal opportunities in access to education, right to participate in a democratic voting process, equal employment, similar housing, and equal access to public facilities. A good example of a civil rights movement is the one initiated by African Americans after the end of slavery, who fought for the right to be free from racial discrimination and to be treated equally to the whites (former slave owners) (“Civil Rights Movement,” 2005). Extensive research on the civil rights movement gave rise to various theories explaining causes of such initiatives.
One of the ideas put forward by Morrison is the deprivation theory (as cited in Janik & Marková, 2008). Under it, individuals participating in social movements feel that they do not receive a fair share of available resources. However, as Morrison explains, a group that is the most affected by deprivation is not necessarily the one receiving the least share (as cited in Janik & Marková, 2008). During the African American civil rights movement, students and religious leaders felt the most deprived despite being relatively well-off. The event is associated with awareness and willingness to stand and rectify what the system and those responsible had failed to do. Ideally, people have legitimate rights endowed to them by the Constitution, but they are sometimes deprived of them.
Expectations are another factor that makes someone feel unfairly discriminated. In such a situation, people expect to have what everyone else has. Such expectations may be legitimate or not. Initiating social movements is a measure to fight against the deprivation of what is legitimately theirs. Another form of hope they have is a blocked expectation, whereby goals set by individuals or groups cannot be reached through conventional means. In most cases, civil rights movements advocate for legal rights, however, when the latter have not been legally documented, they advocate for the ones to be passed into laws.
There are various ways to achieve civil rights, including mass action (“Social Movements,” n.d.). Philip Randolph, who advocated for political and economic rights of the working class of blacks in the twentieth century, used this method to appeal to the masses (Newman, 2004). During the Second World War, he called the Black Americans to participate in a mass demonstration with the aim to make the then American President Franklin allow the blacks equal participation in the armed forces and eliminate discrimination in the military. It formed the basis of advocacy for human rights in the consequent years (Newman, 2004). The movement aimed to liberate the blacks from the chains of nepotism in the armed forces bore fruits, and they were fairly involved in the military.
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For a civil rights movement to be successful, there need to be mobilization and attraction of the public to join it. Since the opponent in the form of the authority is always active and acts to slow down the movement, the leaders of the latter should work jointly to neutralize actions of the former. It is important to involve the media to enable the movement to retain a positive image in news. Furthermore, legal battles necessitate total commitment of resources for maintaining lawyers and a legal team to defend the civil movement. To manage such cases, outsourcing is a necessary strategy, which may be prevented by a repressive system of the government (“Social Movements,” n.d.).
The new social movement theory developed in the 1960s changed the character, strategies, and focus of social campaigns. New inventions came with efficient communication strategies, local and global participation, focus on multiple issues, and more involvement of learned middle-class persons (Wieviorka, 2005). The new technology increased access to education and the awareness of people of their rights, expanded a fight against discrimination, and enhanced democracy. These actions became the leading factors influencing participation in civil rights movements.
As part of a social movement, civil rights movements develop randomly responding to social, cultural, and political factors. When the feeling of deprivation among people rises, individual or political factors lead to a typical reaction to the situation. Citizens are deprived of their rights, and their responses call for the organization of a movement to act as the bargaining power of ordinary citizens. The movement eventually ends with the achievement of contentment with the things that have raised concerns. Politicians’ reactions in most civil rights movements tend to adopt a soft version of agenda offering leaders positions to work inside the system rather than criticizing it.
Civil rights movements are reformative and aim at changing some aspects of society to create a state of equality and fairness. The aim is usually improving the system rather than destroying or removing it. A good example of a civil rights movement is the Anti-feminist campaign (Eagle Forum), fighting for women rights. Other movements are transformative and work towards fixing the failed system. They are the most delicate since they can violently overthrow the existing system in advocating for changes (Hall, 2005).
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In conclusion, civil rights movements are a result of the feeling of deprivation among people. They aim at changing conditions, laws, systems, or individuals that have failed to perform their functions, negatively affecting common people. Democratic countries with the freedom of speech, assembly, and free political participation are a result of the influence of a civil rights movement. They work to enhance the working of the system and prevent suffrage for the less privileged.
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