Reaction Paper 3
· Chapter 3 focuses on six interrelated, persuasive functions or requirement that are indispensable to the success and maintenance of social movements: transforming perceptions of social reality, altering self-perceptions, legitimizing the social movement, prescribing courses of action, mobilizing for action, and sustaining the social movement.
· Social movements have to find a way to connect the past, present, and the future to convince the public that their situation is intolerable and there is a need for change. With the past, a lot of their target public might be far removed from the past and needs to be reminded that their current condition has something to do with the injustice that has been there for a long time or because the past that should never repeat itself. Sometimes a glorious past is invoked to show how things have deteriorated and to buy into the cultural, political, religious traditions that have survived to link the present that requires change or that should remain the same. Also, social movements can use historical revelations to transform perceptions.
· With regards to the present, protesters push for the urgency of the problem and the need to take action. They use storytelling to alter perceptions of the present. This could come in the form of visuals and songs, which is most compelling to render an issue immediate and visceral. Also, protest theaters and exposure of paradoxes and inconsistencies in institutional or opposing social movement’s rhetoric’s are used to discredit institutions on their claim to legitimacy.
· Also, protestors have to be able to invoke an image (a message of hope) of a brighter future as a result of what they are doing now. Also revivalist social movements make predictions about impending doom if the ills are not addressed. They also give a domino effect to their charge for reform.
· Altering self-perceptions: Social movements should be capable of making protestors perceive themselves as people who could take on powerful institutions and effect changes. Perception can be altered to present protesters as victims, the dispossessed struggling to gain their “freedom, equality, justice and rights of others rather than themselves. Basically, they operate through the ego function which could be self-directed or other-directed.
· Self-directed social movements align with those at the receiving end struggling to upturn their oppressor’s power while self-directed movements are those with messianic perception because they are fighting to liberate the oppressed. They do not belong to the class they try to save. Thus social movements work to alter perceptions through the victim, self-esteem and self-worth, self-identity, and social status. What is common to these forms of perception alteration is the fact that they work to define the protestors to be agents of good with moral currency to take down an oppressive system. Social movements inspire a sense of self that aligns with their mission to be righteously dissatisfied enough to make sacrifices to effect change.
· Legitimizing the social movement: Social movements thrive on being validated and recognized as legitimate by institutions, public members and potential members they are appealing to. They strive to gain positive relational relation with the larger society that confers legitimacy on their activities and determines their influence to rhetorically demand change. Institution’s legitimacy through Power of control (regulate the flow of information), the power of identification (identification of legitimacy through elaborate systems of beliefs and moral ideas), and the power of terministic control and moral suasion. To take on the established legitimacy of institutions, a social movement’s persuasive efforts must be geared towards establishing legitimate relational pattern which must have both coactive (rationality of good reasons that connects known public expressive values associated with legitimizing movements) or confrontational rhetoric and strategies.65
· Confrontational rhetoric calls into question institutional legitimacy for a social movement to transcend the social order. Social movements expose the immorality of institutional leaders to delegitimize their grip on the power through strategies that expose or provokes an overreaction. It demonstrates their lack of ground to deserve claims to legitimacy in a social hierarchy.
· Prescribing courses of action: Selling the social movement’s ideology through a set of belief that addresses what must be done, who must do it, and how it must be done. The authors go back to the argument of internal conflicts that differentiates Social movements from Social movement organizations whenever the movements intend to prescribe what must be done to achieve the set goals. Prescribing leaders and members answer the who question. How: the most appropriate and effective strategies for their causes. They identified the efficacy of the internet as a tool that can mend conflicts that arise on different ideas on how the social movements can achieve their goals.
· Mobilizing for action: Social movements must have a strong mobilizational strategy to woo support through discourses that organize interests of groups and individuals around a common goal of social change. Uniting actions in this situation requires bringing together discontented groups, energizing it, pressuring the opposition, Gaining sympathy and legitimacy.
· “The Internet serves for social movements. It can reach a wide audience with ease and at low cost, disseminate information and messages quickly, be accessed from almost anywhere…”78 Pressure tactics can also be used to force government institution into yielding grounds to social movement demands by using its sheer member strength to make the government see how they might lose the support of their sympathizers. Movements can get the approval of opinion leaders by appealing to their humanity to gain legitimacy.
· Sustaining the social movement: Social movements resort to justifying setbacks and delays as well as fight for viability to sustain lengthy crusades. Social movements are sustained even as they go through changes over the years by justifying setbacks and delays. Persuasion is used to maintain order and discipline and to respond to divisive voices. “Social movements wage continual battles to remain viable. More rhetorical energy may be expended on fundraising, membership drives, acquisition of materials and property, and maintenance of movement media than on selling ideologies to target audiences and pressuring the opposition” Sometimes the early success of certain aspect of the campaign can lead to the fizzling out of some the social movements. They struggle to maintain visibility by using rhetorical events and happenings to stoke agitation fires.