This is the "Social Movements and Social Change" page of the "Year 12 Sociology" guide.
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Year 12 Sociology  

Last Updated: Aug 19, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Social Movements in the Study Guide


Social movements and social change 

In this area of study students investigate the concept of power used by sociologist Max Weber. Weber claimed that every society is based on power, which he defined as the ability to achieve desired ends despite resistance from others. Those individuals and groups within society who have adequate power are seen as possessing equality, whereas those who are denied power are seen as experiencing inequality. 

Students investigate the meaning, nature and purpose of social movements and how they influence social change. They learn about four types of social movements: alternative, redemptive, reformative and revolutionary, and their characteristics. 

They investigate theories as to why social movements arise, including the deprivation theory, which asserts that social movements seeking change arise among people who feel unjustly treated, particularly in economic conditions. New social movements theories, however, assert that people who join social movements are motivated by quality of life issues rather than economic concerns. 

Students also learn about the stages of a social movement. 

 Students investigate two specific social movements, including an environmental movement. The environment movement is characterised by particular causes. Students should select a cause and then study one or more groups associated with that cause. 

The social movements selected for study may be operating at a local, national or international scale. Although the social movements may have a history they should be examined in their current context and be at a stage where their impact on social change has been commented on in a range of sources. 

Outcome 2 

On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse the nature of social movements and evaluate their influence on social change. To achieve this outcome the student will draw on key knowledge and key skills outlined in Area of Study 2. 

Key knowledge 

• the concepts of social movement and social change 

• the nature of social movements: – alternative, redemptive, reformative and revolutionary types of social movements – the deprivation and new social movements theories of how social movements come into being – the stages in social movements of emergence, coalescence, bureaucratisation and decline – how power is used by a social movement and its opposition – influences of social movements on social change, with consideration of what was changed and who was changed 

• the nature of specific social movements, including an environmental movement and one other movement: – the social movement as alternative, redemptive, reformative or revolutionary – how the social movement came into being, from deprivation and new social movement theory perspectives – the current stage of the social movement – how power is exercised by the social movement and its opposition – the influence of the social movement on social change. 

Key skills 

• explain and apply sociological concepts 

• explain types of social movements 

• explain the stages of social movements 

• explain how social movements come into being, drawing on deprivation and new social movement theories 

• analyse how power is used by social movements and their opposition 

• evaluate the influence of social movements on social change • source and use a range of relevant evidence to support observations and analysis 

• evaluate sources and critically reflect on their own and others’ approaches to understanding the social world 

• synthesise evidence to draw conclusions. 


Specific Movements

CCW will focus on the following social movements:

  • The Lock the Gate Alliance
  • The Australian Suffragette Movement
  • The Voice(s) for Indi Campaign

Databases available at CCW


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