Portal:Social movements

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Social movements are a type of group action. 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.

Modern Western social movements became possible through education (the wider dissemination of literature), and increased mobility of labor due to the industrialization and urbanization of 19th century societies. It is sometimes argued that the freedom of expression, education and relative economic independence prevalent in the modern Western culture is responsible for the unprecedented number and scope of various contemporary social movements. However others point out that many of the social movements of the last hundred years grew up, like the Mau Mau in Kenya, to oppose Western colonialism. Either way, social movements have been and continued to be closely connected with democratic political systems. Occasionally social movements have been involved in democratizing nations, but more often they have flourished after democratization. Over the past 200 years, they have become part of a popular and global expression of dissent.

Modern movements often utilize technology and the internet to mobilize people globally. Adapting to communication trends is a common theme among successful movements. Template:/box-footer

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President Jimmy Carter at the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

The anti-nuclear movement in the United States consists of more than 70 anti-nuclear groups which have acted to oppose nuclear power or nuclear weapons, or both, in the U.S. The movement has delayed construction or halted commitments to build some new nuclear plants, and has pressured the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enforce and strengthen the safety regulations for nuclear power plants.

Anti-nuclear campaigns that captured national public attention in the 1970s and 1980s involved the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, and Three Mile Island. The protests reached a peak in the second half of the 1970s and grew out of the environmental movement. Though campaigning has declined since the end of the Cold War, efforts continue and have been in response to proposed new nuclear power plants, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the transportation of nuclear waste.

Some scientists and engineers have expressed reservations about nuclear power, including: Barry Commoner, S. David Freeman, John Gofman, Mark Z. Jacobson, Amory Lovins, Arjun Makhijani, Gregory Minor, and Joseph Romm. Scientists who have opposed nuclear weapons include Linus Pauling and Eugene Rabinowitch.

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Rosa Parks in 1955, with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the background.

Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005) was an African American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress later called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement".

On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work.

Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement. Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Her death in 2005 was a major story in the United States' leading newspapers. She was granted the posthumous honor of lying in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

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Climate activists blockade British Airports Authority's headquarters for day of action.

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Direct Action and Democracy Today is a 2005 book by April Carter. In the book, Carter debates the nature and meaning of social and political protest and discusses the relationship between direct action and people's claims for greater democratic control, not only against repressive regimes but also in liberal parliamentary states.

Carter is clearly supportive of direct action, but her analysis is based on logic and evidence rather than advocacy. Her assessments suggest that theorists have not been paying enough attention to the challenge posed by direct action, a challenge to both systems of power and the ideas that legitimate them.

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