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Further Resources




Grassroots and Non-Profit Leadership: A Guide for Organizations in Changing Times (1995).
Berit Lakey, George Lakey, Rod Napier and Janice Robinson
An Extract from Pages 17-25

Animal Rights and Public Policy
Paper given by Kim Stallwood to the Animals and the Law conference at Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona in October 2011. Paper dated: November 10th, 2011.

Animal Rights: Moral Crusade or Social Movement?
Paper given by Kim Stallwood at the MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory 2012 at the University of Manchester in September 2012

World Animal Net Resources
World Animal Net (WAN) resources include further background information on the animal welfare movement, including: ‘What is Animal Welfare?’; ‘Ethical and Philosophical Theories’; ‘History of the Movement’; and ‘Religion’.



Doing Democracy
By Bill Moyer, JoAnne MacAllister, Mary Lou Finley and Steve Soifer Order Online from the 'Training for Change’ Website
‘Doing Democracy provides both a theory and working model for understanding and analysing social movements, ensuring that they are successful in the long term.’

Globalise Liberation
By David Soinit
City Lights Books (24 Jun 2004)
ISBN-10: 0872864200
ISBN-13: 978-0872864207
Available from Amazon

Social Movements - A Cognitive Approach
By: Ron Eyerman, University of Lund, Sweden/ ANDREW JAMISON, University of Lund, Sweden

Social Movements 1768-2012
By: Charles Tilly and Leslie J. Wood
ISBN: 978-1612052380

Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements: Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Cultural Framings
Editor: Doug McAdam
ISBN: 978-1612052380

Animal Rights: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement
By: Harold D. Guither
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
ISBN: 978-0521485166

The Animal Revolution
By: Richard D. Ryder
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers
ISBN: 0631152393


The Animal Welfare Movement


Movement Building for Social Success
Barriers to Success
Previous Successes
What is Needed for Success?


World Animal Net (WAN) resources include further background information on the animal welfare movement, including: ‘What is Animal Welfare?’; ‘Ethical and Philosophical Theories’; ‘History of the Movement’; and ‘Religion’

The animal welfare movement is clearly a social change movement, as it seeks to change society’s perception and treatment of animals. However, as noted by World Animal Net in ‘The Animal Protection Movement and its Progress’, it is taking a long time to ‘come of age’ as one of the world’s great movements for social change. This section will examine some of the reasons for its protracted march towards ‘take off’ as a movement.

The animal welfare movement often views itself as somehow separate from other social change movements. However, as this course has shown, there is much to learn from other social change movements. Also, as with any similar movement, the animal welfare movement cannot be isolated from social change, politics, culture and economics. In fact, the development of the animal welfare movement is strongly connected to these areas. Also, as this is a highly altruistic concern, it is often considered necessary to tap animal welfare into other social causes that involve human needs which are ceded higher ranking/urgency by policy-makers. However, this approach should be viewed as an expedient, rather than a solution, as it will only lead to change in areas where animal welfare aligns with other (predominant) interests. Until fundamental and underlying moral values are changed to recognize the importance of animal welfare in its own right (for reasons such as animal sentience, justice, international acceptance etc.), then animal welfare will continue to lose out whenever it clashed with other human-centered interests.

The animal welfare movement is in different stages of development in different countries. Culture and historical development impact upon the status of animal welfare and the stage of the movement’s development. Culture and society also impact upon the way in which the animal welfare movement can carry out its advocacy for best impact. Religion can also impact upon attitudes towards animal welfare, hampering or advancing the cause.

There is a vast difference in the way the animal welfare movement is perceived by different organizations and individuals. Some view it as simply a compassionate welfare activity, whereas others view it as a real movement for social change: they see the underlying injustice in the way that current systems treat our fellow animals and burn with the desire the see the situation righted, not just ‘sticking plaster’ solutions applied to the existing flawed, unjust and cruel system.

In reality, the animal welfare movement is quite clearly one of the great movements for social change, although it is taking a relatively long time to ‘come of age’, and is in different stages of development in different countries. It is interesting to note that many individuals who championed causes of human welfare also campaigned against cruelty to animals (for example, William Wilberforce and others who campaigned to abolish slavery; great Victorian reformers such as Lord Shaftesbury, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill; black spokesmen such as Toussaint L'Overture of Haiti; and even Abraham Lincoln). The principle of social justice requires a developed sense of empathy; as does compassion for the plight of animals.

Our ethical foundations (especially in the West) have evolved as a human-biased morality, but the past 30+ years have brought a significant change. Both the animal rights and the Green movements have shifted the focus of attention to include the non-human world.

This perspective is, in fact, not at all new. The ancient, yet living traditions of Native Indians and Aborigines show a reverence and understanding for the natural world, which combines a respect for the sustainability of the environment with a care for the individual animal.

Thankfully, as with many fields of moral concern, the ethics of animal welfare have been following an evolutionary trend, and the current climate is one in which the status and well-being of animals is attracting well-deserved attention even though “exploitation of them has become been ingrained into our institutions”(Midgely). The current climate, though, is one in which leading philosophers and religious figures actively debate and write about various viewpoints on animal welfare; the media frequently highlights welfare issues; governments throughout Europe and beyond feel growing pressure from their concerned electorates in respect of animal welfare issues; consequently, parliaments (including the European Parliament) debate and legislate on animal welfare and respected fora such as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Council of Europe (the bastion of human rights in Europe) prepare standards, conventions and recommendations covering the welfare of animals in different situations. Even organizations such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with vastly different priorities are now including animal welfare in the sphere of their activities.

Animal welfare has now become an international issue. Over the last 30 + years it has evolved from a marginal local or, at best, national issue into one that is on the international political agenda. At the same time, the industry has become international – both in terms of its business activities and its political pressure. There is also increasing ‘internationalization’ of culture, which presents the movement with both an opportunity and a threat. The world is facing a relentless increase in consumerism and ‘Americanization’, and with this the massive expansion of animal use industries (including producers, fast food giants and supermarkets). The onus is now on the movement to ensure that the animal welfare culture is spread internationally to counter these threats.

Movement Building for Social Change

The study of social change shows the clear importance of movement building. The major frameworks for social change all include the need for movement' organization, leadership development and education.

Analysis in this course and other sources provides a sound indication of the key success factors in movement building for the achievement of enduring social change.

If we consider what is needed to bring about social change, we need education and awareness of our issue and strategic advocacy to bring animal welfare higher up in society’s social and political concerns. To equip the movement for this task, we need strategic movement development that can learn from other inspiring social change movements (see above).

One important lesson from other inspiring social change movements is that this movement building is not purely strategic and organizational... A key factor is the firing-up and spreading of what Gandhi termed ‘Satyagraha’ – truth, firmness or more vividly: ‘soul force’. We must never underplay the moral strength of the animal welfare cause, or the need for justice for animals. We are the spokespeople for the animals, and if we don’t speak out as powerful advocates for their cause then nobody will.

Barriers to Success

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was the world’s first animal welfare charity. It was founded back in 1824. The first international animal welfare organization was the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). WSPA was founded in 1981, but its origins were back in 1953. It was established from the merger of two international animal welfare organizations (the World Federation for the Protection of Animals founded in 1953 and the International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA), founded in 1959).

Despite being established so long ago, and having many well-resourced and influential organizations, many still feel that the international animal welfare movement has not reached its full strength and potential. This could be attributed to many reasons, including the following:

  • Until recently, there have been no international legislation or policy initiatives around which the movement could unite.
  • Lack of urgency about the mission
  • Lack of ‘fire in the belly’ from many of the movement’s leaders.
  • Lack of ‘common sense of mission and purpose’ (an apt phrase coined by HSUS’s John Hoyt when he was President of WSPA).
  • Lack of professionalism and efficiency in many organizations.
  • The lack of capacity, skills and expertise for dealing with animal welfare within the movement: This includes low numbers of animal welfare-trained veterinarians.
  • Lack of strategic and operational impact.
  • Lack of strategic advocacy.
  • Lack of long-term, sustained campaigns.
  • The detrimental effect of divisive attitudes in the movement – particularly as regards the welfare v rights debate (instead of accepting that all are working on same path – just on different steps along the way – and focusing efforts on the common ‘enemy’).
  • The tendency towards competition, rather than genuine collaboration.
  • Failure to develop feasible alternatives to current paradigms and orthodoxies.
  • The breadth and range of issues covered by the movement and the lack of (agreed) focus and prioritization.
  • Allocating the ‘lion’s share’ of resources to ‘service delivery’ work, as opposed to social change.
  • The underdeveloped animal welfare movement (shortage of organizations, and human and financial resources), which has hampered the development of education and awareness – and advocacy.
  • Lack of resources or skills necessary for successful coalition/alliance building.
  • Lack of collaboration and support from other social justice movements.
  • The lack of inclusion of animal welfare in all associated development projects (including: livestock and fisheries development, environment, education, wildlife etc.).
  • Lack of funding (especially Trusts and Grants, favoring service delivery work).
  • Lack of (development) funding for animal welfare initiatives.
  • In ‘developing’ countries, the perception that animal welfare was/is a colonial ‘import’, or somehow a luxury for the privileged (whereas it is now based on science).

A recent in-depth study of 15 Southern African countries indicated that only 1 country in the region had a modern, comprehensive Animal Welfare Act, 7 had just basic anti-cruelty laws, and 5 had no Animal Welfare Act at all. There was evidence of ineffective animal welfare enforcement in all 15 countries. 13 countries had inadequate animal welfare structures within government. Levels of animal welfare awareness were low throughout the region, and two thirds of the countries in the region had poorly developed animal welfare movements (with 3 of these having no movement at all).

Interestingly, the main current driver of animal welfare in the Southern African region was found to be a ‘top down’ one, emanating from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and its national delegates. However, the lack of ‘bottom up’ pressure (from the animal welfare movement and individuals) in most countries in the region had led to a low level of political will which had frustrated real progress.

Identifying the ‘drivers’ of social change and adding power and weight to their work is considered a winning advocacy strategy. It is more effective to strengthen a positive force, than to try to counter a negative force (as this only brings a counter-reaction).

The current lack of modern animal welfare law is widely viewed as a major problem in many countries, particularly ‘developing’ countries. However, before this can be effectively developed it is important that necessary structures and systems – and expertise - are developed within government. These need to be able to deal effectively (ensuring participatory consultation) with policy analysis and formulation; the development of modern, comprehensive legislation; and the establishment of enforcement mechanisms that work.

However, in order for a policy and legislative framework to be effective in raising animal welfare standards, the level of education and awareness of animal welfare also needs to be raised. This is vital on two levels: Both for raising general public awareness – which is necessary to make animal welfare an issue of importance in society (which is part of the social change process) – and for training those responsible for the enforcement and implementation of animal welfare law (including officials and animal users).

The development of the animal welfare movement (civil society) would also assist the development of societal change in favor of animal welfare. The number of organizations in a country is an indicator of the general level of awareness and understanding of the issue. Thus, as education and awareness of an issue rise in a society (from the above interventions), this – in turn – leads to an increase in the number of organizations dealing with the subject. However, to be truly effective agents of change, animal welfare organization need to follow the general pattern of the civil society movement, and move from service delivery to strategic advocacy work.

This Southern African analysis considered the following to be needed in order to achieve sustainable social change for animal welfare:

Education and awareness
Needed to raise understanding, knowledge, support and implementation ability.

The animal welfare movement
Development needed to generate critical mass through advocacy, as well as practical animal welfare projects.

Policies, legislation, and enforcement
Which included animal welfare structures; Necessary for policy change.

The animal welfare movement is in dire need of a strong and forceful movement for social change. Advocacy is the engine for social change. Education is vital but longer-term, and service provision is not tackling problems at their root cause, but akin to applying ‘sticking plaster’ to a wound. The animal welfare policy environment is becoming increasingly ready for fundamental change, but this will not be achieved or sustained without a groundswell of pressure and support for reform. International organizations, governments and civil service departments are, by their very nature, cautious and favor maintenance of the status quo. The same could be said of consumers! All need strong reasons to act, which the movement has to provide – loud and strong!

'Service Delivery'

Service delivery work (working within the existing system - often known as ‘practical project work’) can detract from the movement’s time, capacity and political will to campaign forcefully for social change. Examples include legislative enforcement, stray control work and veterinary care. Because many in the movement are very empathetic, they cannot overlook immediate suffering and so get drawn into service delivery/practical work, rather than using their practical experiences as a basis for prioritising advocacy for lasting social change.

If the world’s animal shelters had spent as much time and effort on advocacy to change the plight of animals as they do picking up the sad end results that demonstrate so painfully the need for change, we could have seen a powerful (and probably successful) revolution! Of course, this is simplistic, as many animal shelters are better suited to service provision work, but the need for urgency and power is still relevant. Certainly every service provision animal welfare society should also advocate for change to the horrendous situation for animals which they face on a daily basis. If they do not do so, they are simply supporting an unjust system – taking responsibility and thus perpetuating the situation.

Also, major funders of animal welfare work, such as Trusts and Grants, have traditionally favored service provision activities. This is probably partly due to the more tangible, measurable and emotionally pleasing results gained from this type of work in the short-term. However, as these bodies – and individuals - become more familiar with the complex animal welfare environment, this perception is changing. More Trusts and Grants are beginning to realise that the service provision work they are funding, day-after-day, year-after-year, is failing to change the situation for animals in a real and lasting way. The only way to do this is through tackling the ‘root causes’ of these enduring problems. This may be longer-term, but it is sustainable.


Globalization Affecting the Movement

The main factors arising from globalization that impact upon the animal welfare movement are:

  • The rise of powerful transnational corporations (TNCs) in animal-use industries.
  • The emergence of powerful trading blocs, regional legislation/standards and international legislation/standards (either promoting or restraining/hampering action on animal welfare issues).
  • The rapid spread of information and communication technologies.
  • Increased travel opportunities and personal contacts amongst animal welfare groups internationally.
  • The trend towards deregulation and ‘consumer choice’.

As markets globalize, the power of those who market (e.g. producers, supermarkets and – especially - fast-food outlets) increases in both strength and outreach. The animal use (and abuse) industries that are the opponents of the movement are becoming increasingly wealthy and political powerful. As leading Japanese management guru Kenichi Ohmae (1996) argues, capital, corporations, customers, communications, and currencies have replaced nation states as determinants in the global economy and have created regional economic zones that constitute growing markets for global corporations.

The animal welfare movement has to harness all its resources to counter this growing threat and to meet the challenges that the new international political scene is throwing forward. It needs to become a powerful international movement for social change: strategic, focused and professional – adept at leveraging its skills and capabilities internationally and supporting and assisting nascent and developing organizations across the world.

Progress with animal ethics in one country can also influence other countries. There is without doubt a moral influence from more advanced (in terms of animal welfare) countries. There is also their role in regional and international meetings.


The way in which the authorities have come to rely on science alone is a real threat to the movement. This emphasis on ‘rationality’ is a result of a schizophrenic dualism, brought about by Greek philosophy and reinforced by the Enlightenment. However, it fails to recognize that facts are always interpreted through cultural screens (of which rationality is one). Intrinsic knowledge and wisdom is ignored until science ‘catches up’ with common knowledge. Unless the ‘precautionary principle’ is applied (to always give the animals the benefit of the doubt where science cannot provide the answers), then this leads to society consistently compromising the welfare of animals. It also leads to increased official support for biotechnological solutions, rather than natural methods and necessary protection.

However, as animal welfare science is developed, this is supporting the cause – as it ‘plays catch-up’ with our intrinsic knowledge and sense of justice.


The danger of co-option is another present threat to the movement. This occurs not only with groups that are taken into the system through service delivery activities. It also occurs in other areas. In lobbying, for example, we increasingly see tokenism, instead of real engagement of a broad range of animal welfare interests. Consultation is simulated, but in reality input is discounted or ignored, particularly when weighed against commercial interests.

There are also examples of where animal welfare organizations are brought into compromise situations as regards the introduction of new legislation, enforcement or structural ‘advances’. The animal welfare movement appears even more willing than other movements to grasp at straws and settle for less than the optimum – possibly because after years in the ‘wilderness’ as a marginal interest it is simply too willing to be taken seriously at any level.

Previous Successes

There have been some excellent successes at European Union (EU) level, where there is now a body of animal welfare legislation that is in most cases stronger than national law. The use of networks and coalitions has doubtless played a fundamental role in these. These include:

  • The Eurogroup for Animal Welfare, which has member organizations across the EU and lobbies at EU-level on the whole range of animal welfare issues.
  • The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), which is a pan-European coalition campaigning and lobbying to end animal experiments in Europe.
  • The European Network for Farm Animal Protection (ENFAP), which was previously known as the European Coalition for Farm Animals (ECFA), which is an alliance of animal advocacy groups campaigning and lobbying together throughout Europe.

Progress was moved to an international level when the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) identified animal welfare as a priority in its strategic plan for 2001-20015, and started developing international standards covering animal welfare issues. Whilst these standards are lower than some European legislation, and some higher standard national animal welfare laws, they do represent enormous progress for the many countries with no (or very basic) animal welfare laws. Furthermore, the OIE consults the animal welfare movement, having WSPA as a ‘collaborating partner’ and member of its Animal Welfare Working Group (which drafts the standards), and WSPA widens this involvement through its coordinating body - the ‘International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW)’.

There have also been significant successes in some countries nationally – particularly within Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Far-reaching legislation is passed, and animal welfare activity is beginning to be accepted as a legitimate national interest (even being included in some constitutions).

Within Southern Africa, Tanzania has been seen to have made significant progress in animal welfare in recent laws. At least part of these advances must be attributable to the impact of advocacy from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)’s African offices, following its relocation from Kenya to Tanzania.

Despite this, in some countries, such as India, the movement appears to be losing ground as other materialistic concerns take precedence amongst the youth (despite an ingrained culture in favor of animal concerns).

There have also been two significant developments which have the potential to strengthen the movement. These are the development of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) and the Pan African Animal Welfare Alliance (PAAWA). On the other hand, the dismantling by WSPA of its international member society network was a blow to many former member societies.

What is Needed for Success?

Firstly, the movement needs to understand its role as a social change agent. It needs to make its animal justice mission a real ‘raison d’être’, instead of just paying lip service to this. This should provide the real ‘fire in the belly’ that is needed to change the movement into a strong force for social change.

The rapidly changing commercial and political environment with which the animal welfare movement is faced, calls for some fundamental changes. It needs to become increasingly professional and strategic, using modern management methods appropriate to its complex environment.

To succeed in its mission, the movement needs to change its focus to tackling problems at source, rather than endlessly sweeping up the tragic end results. We need to put a stop to being taken advantage of in service delivery activities. If an organization wants, and needs, to do service delivery work, it should make absolutely sure that it is paid at the going economic rate for this. It should also ensure that this work does not lead to its ‘cooption’ into the existing flawed system, and that it always works for social change for animals.

The movement needs to draw a halt to being co-opted and neutralized. Every serious organization, of whatever ethical persuasion, should demand full and inclusive representation, not tokenism.

Competition is divisive and tears the movement to shreds. The industry is far stronger in terms of people and resources. Their political clout can be measured in economic building blocks, whereas the movement’s building blocks are far more ethereal and fragile – ethics, morality and the power of good. They can only counter the economic threat if they are placed in a coherent stack, rather than small individual piles, that others are constantly trying to kick into the dust. We need the glue of coherence and unity. We need effective collaboration and alliances across the movement. Only then will consumers and voters begin to adopt the coherent message, instead of giving up in the face of all the noise and confusion.

Advocacy is the engine of the movement for social change. The movement’s campaigning methods need to be updated and dynamic if we are to succeed. In most countries across the world, the days are gone when a small demonstration with placards and a campaign mascot could sway governments. The forces pitted against us are too strong and powerful to be combated with such simplicity. We need to generate a groundswell of pressure and support for reform. This will take new ammunition and new targets. Campaign targets have been changing with the move from regulatory to market-orientated environments – from government and voters, towards business targets and consumers. An in depth understanding of the political and external environment is vital. Campaigns need to be hard-hitting, with focus and impact, but also well-researched. They must be combined with a strong, professional lobby, avoiding the usual NGO pitfalls. Every country should be pressed to recognize animals as sentient beings, not just property, and have fully enforced modern animal welfare laws (instead of the existing situation where less than one third of countries have laws at the time of writing).

Humane education is vital to the development of a humane ethic in future generations, and the movement.

The animal welfare movement is quite clearly one of the great movements for social change, but it has yet to reach its real potential and impact. We need to root out exploitation of animals wherever it has become ingrained into our society and institutions (Midgely), and to expose and shame. We must never let the unacceptable become the status quo. We must change hearts and minds before it is too late.

Social Change Movements


Introduction to Social Movements
Social Movement Organizations
Types of Social Movement
Dynamic of Social Movements
Stages of Social Movement
Inspiring Social Change Movements

Introduction to Social Movements

There are numerous definitions of social movements. However, the core of the concept is included in Wilson’s (1971: 8) definition: ‘A social movement is a conscious, collective, organized attempt to bring about or resist large-scale change in the social order by non-institutionalized means.’

Social movements develop because there is a perceived gap between the current ethics and aspirations of people and the present reality. As Wilson said: ‘Animated by the injustices, sufferings, and anxieties they see around them, men and women in social movements reach beyond the customary resources of the social order to launch their own crusade against the evils of society. In so doing they reach beyond themselves and become new men and women.’

Because social movements are the consequences of new elements of civil society, which are not incorporated into the social order, they are always unconventional. Civil society is normally in a state of change, but social structures tend towards stability. That is why social movements almost always exist. If the discrepancy between civil society and social order is large, then social movements are strong and numerous. If the discrepancy is small, then social movements are weak and more conventional.

This ‘disenfranchisement’ leads to mobilization – first organizational, where resources are harnessed in support of the cause. Resources include: people, time, skills/expertise and funds. Then mass mobilization, where society is recruited behind the cause.

There is inevitable resistance to social change. Many do not want their vested interests or status quo threatened. There is also simple inertia.

Tactics of change: non-violence includes negotiation, direct action, events/media stunts, demonstrations, propaganda, strikes, boycotts, non-co-operation, civil disobedience, parallel structures. Violent breakaway groups undercut the movement’s legitimacy.

Actions undertaken by civil society to effect change are generally informed by strategic thought. In thinking strategically, social change activists try to identify the nature and causes of social problems and then choose specific targets that are deemed the most likely people or organizations to resolve those problems. One of the keys to a successful strategic approach is in maintaining effective communication with, and among, members of the public.

It is readily acknowledged by leading social theorists (Arendt, 1958; Habermas, 1989) that just and effective democracies require a strong and functional public sphere. The public sphere operates best where citizens, as individuals or in groups, are informed about the social, political and corporate affairs that affect their interests, and enter into public discussion about the plans, policies and activities of those in power whose decisions affect their area of concern. This on-going discussion provides the feedback and direction needed for healthy governance.

Social Movement Organizations

Organizing New Social Change Activities: The surplus energy accumulated by the society and given expression through the initiative of pioneers and their followers does not gain momentum until it becomes accepted and organized by society. The process of organization may take many different forms. It may occur by the enactment of new laws or regulations that support the activity or it may be in the form of a new system or accepted set of practices. Each development advance of the society leads to the emergence of a host of new organizations designed to support it and puts pressure on existing organizations to elevate their functioning to meet the higher demands of the new phase.

Integrating the Organization with Society The organization is the mechanism by which the surplus energy in society is harnessed, mobilized, directed and channeled to produce greater results. The organization derives energy from being integrated with the society in which it functions. The energy of society comes from its needs and aspirations. This energy pervades the social organization established to meet these needs. The more finely the organization is attuned to fulfil underlying social aspirations, the greater the energy flowing through it.

The will of society changes over time as old attitudes and goals are replaced with new ones. Organizations that adapt to these changes continue to thrive. Those that remain fixed in the past decline, become ineffective, and are eventually discarded or fade away

Types of Social Movements

David Aberle (1966) described four types of social movement including: alterative, redemptive, reformative, and revolutionary social movements, based upon two characteristics: (1) who is the movement attempting to change and (2) how much change is being advocated.

A. Alternative Social Movements are looking at a selective part of the population, and the amount of change is limited due to this. Planned Parenthood is an example of this, because it is directed toward people of childbearing age to teach about the consequences of sex.

B. Redemptive social movements also look at a selective part of the population, but they seek a radical change. Some religious sects fit here, especially the ones that recruit members to be ‘reborn’.

C. Reformative social movements are looking at everyone, but they seek a limited change. The environmental movement fits here, because they try to address everyone to help the environment in their lives (like recycling).

D. Revolutionary social movements want to change all of society. The Communist party is an example of wanting to radically change social institutions.

This is shown diagrammatically below.

Reform Movements - movements dedicated to changing some norms, usually legal ones. Examples of such a movement would include a green movement advocating a set of ecological laws, or an animal welfare organization advocating controls on animal experimentation. Some reform movements may advocate a change in custom and moral norms, for example, condemnation of pornography.

Radical Movements - movements dedicated to changing some value systems. It directs to the creation of new social order and the destruction of existing social order. Those are usually much larger in scope then the reform movements, Examples would include the American Civil Rights Movement which demanded full civil rights and equality under the law to all Americans, regardless of race. An animal rights organization demanding an end to all animal use would fall into this category.

Methods of Work:
Peaceful movements - opposed to using violent means. The American Civil Rights movement, Polish Solidarity movement, or Mahatma Gandhi civil disobedience movements would fall into this category. Animal welfare organizations fit into this category.
Violent movements - various armed resistance movements up to and including terrorist organizations. Examples would include the Palestinian Hezbollah, Basque Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) or Ireland’s Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) movements. Some animal liberation groups fit into this category (but not all, as some following a liberation philosophy use peaceful methods).

Old and New
Old movements - most of the 19th century movements that recruited their followers from a specific social class (only workers, only peasants, only Aristocrats, only Protestants etc.). They were usually centered on some materialistic goals like improving the living standard of the given social class.
New movements - movements which became dominant from the second half of the 20th century - like the civil rights movement, environmental movement, gay rights movement, peace movement, anti-nuclear movement, anti-globalization movement, etc. Sometimes they are known as postmodernism movements. They are usually centered on a non-materialistic goal.

Dynamic of Social Movements

Social movements are more likely to evolve in the time and place which is friendly to the social movements: hence their evident symbiosis with the 19th century proliferation of ideas like individual rights, freedom of speech and civil disobedience. There must also be polarizing differences between groups of people: in case of 'old movements', they were the poverty and wealth gaps. In case of the 'new movements', they are more likely to be the differences in customs, ethics, and values.

Finally, the birth of a social movement needs what sociologist Neil Smelser calls an initiating event: a particular, individual event that will begin a chain reaction of events in the given society leading to the creation of a social movement. For example, American Civil Rights movement grew on the reaction to black women, Rosa Parks, riding in the whites-only section of the bus. The Incident of Rosa Parks who was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to make room for white people sparked the American Civil Rights Movement. The Polish Solidarity movement, which eventually toppled the communist regimes of the Eastern Europe, developed after trade union activist Anna Walentynowicz was fired from work. Such an event is also described as a volcanic model - a social movement is often created after a large number of people realize that there are others sharing the same value and desire for a particular social change.

Thus, one of the main difficulties facing the emerging social movement is spreading the very knowledge that it exists. Second, is overcoming the free rider problem - convincing people to join it, instead of following the mentality 'why should I trouble myself when others can do it and I can just reap benefits after their hard work'.

Social movements can organize or mobilize in order to spread their issue. Mobilizing refers to the process by which inspirational leaders or other persuaders can get large numbers of people to join a movement or engage in a particular movement action, while organizing refers to a more sustained process whereby people come to deeply understand a movement's goals and empower themselves to continued action on behalf of those goals.

Stages of Social Movements

After the social movement is created, there are two likely phases of recruiting. The first phase will gather the people deeply interested in the primary goal and ideal of the movement. The second phase, which will usually come after the given movement had some successes and its fame increased, will gather people whose primary interest lie in joining the movement for 'being in it' - because it is trendy, or would look good on a résumé. People who joined in this second phase will likely be the first to leave when the movement suffers any setbacks and failures.

Eventually, the social movement will move towards a crisis. If it has achieved its intended goal, then it's called a victory crisis, as most members leave the movement assuming there is no longer any need for its continued existence. This will likely be opposed by a minority of members, for whom the existence of the very movement have become the primary goal itself, and likely the source of their income. Few social movements have survived a victory crisis, often merging with other similar movements or transforming into a tiny, caricature form of their early selves. Other type of crisis is a failure crisis, which can be seen in increasing demoralization and disenchantment of members, when they loose faith in the possibility that the primary goal of the movement can be ever achieved. Failure crisis can be encouraged by outside elements, like opposition from government or other movements. However, many movements had survived a failure crisis, being revived by some hardcore activists even after several decades.

Blumer (1969), Mauss (1975), and Tilly (1978) have described different stages social movements often pass through. Movements emerge for a variety of reasons (see the theories below), coalesce, and generally bureaucratize. At that point, they can take a number of paths, including: finding some form of movement success, failure, co-optation of leaders, repression by larger groups (e.g., government), or even the establishment of the movement within the mainstream.

Social movements have a lifecycle of their own, and move through various stages that include:

The birth of the movement

The movement becoming a co-operative force

Develops into an institution


Falls apart

Inspiring Social Change Movements

There are a number of different social movements, which it is useful to study to gain inspiration, ideas and methodologies. This can also help you to understand social movement theories and how these work in practice.

We have selected some of the most inspiring social movements; and examined these - and their ‘ways of working’ - briefly below for the purposes of this course. Some key principles from these movements are also included below.

Gandhi and Non-Violence

Gandhi’s greatest achievement was to develop the philosophy of non-violent action, and spread this concept throughout the world. Born on October 2, 1869, Mohandas Gandhi struggled to find freedom for his Indian countrymen and to spread his belief in non-violent resistance.

Part of the inspiration Gandhi’s policy of non-violence came from the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, whose influence on Gandhi was profound. Gandhi also acknowledged his debt to the Bhagavad Gita, the teachings of Christ and to the 19th-century American writer Henry David Thoreau, especially to Thoreau's famous essay ‘Civil Disobedience’.

It was in South Africa that Gandhi first experienced racial discrimination. There he began his fight to end prejudice and achieve equality for people of all races. Using marches, letters, articles, community meetings and boycotts, he protested. These protests often led to his arrest.

After 21 years in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India to fight for Indian independence from Great Britain. In addition to the methods he used in South Africa, Gandhi would add fasting and prayer to his system of non-violence.

The six strategic steps on non-violent direct action (Principles of Nonviolent Direct Action) which Gandhi developed were as follows:

  1. Investigate: Get the facts. The complexity of society today requires patient investigation to accurately determine responsibility for a particular injustice.
  2. Negotiate: Meet with opponents and put the case to them. A solution may be worked out. If no solution is possible, let your opponents know that you intend to stand firm to establish justice, but that you are always ready to negotiate further.
  3. Educate: Keep campaign participants and supporters well informed about the issues, and spread the word to the public.
  4. Demonstrate: Picketing, holding vigils, mass rallies, and leafleting are the next steps.
  5. Resist: Non-violent resistance is the final step, to be added to the first four as a last resort. This may mean a boycott, a fast, a strike, tax resistance, a non-violent blockade or other forms of civil disobedience. Planning must be carefully done, and non-violence training is essential. When properly carried out, actions of resistance build a position of moral clarity, which will strengthen your own courage and create widespread respect for your campaign.
  6. Be patient: Meaningful change cannot be accomplished overnight. To deepen ones analysis of injustice and oppression means to become aware of how deeply entrenched are the structures, which produce them. These structures can be eliminated, but this requires a long-term commitment and strategy.

Social Change Now gives an example of Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence in action. This shows the strategic and proactive (not to mention brave!) nature of such actions: - ‘On April 6, 1930, after having marched 241 miles on foot from his village to the sea, Mohandas K. Gandhi arrived at the coastal village of Dandi, India, and gathered salt. It was a simple act, but one which was illegal under British colonial rule of India. Gandhi was openly defying the British Salt Law. Within a month, people all over India were making salt illegally.’ Many were jailed, but the ‘soul force’ of Gandhi’s campaign was too strong to be cowed and curbed.

The Gandhian Institute of Bombay stresses that Gandhi rejected the term and concept of ‘passive resistance’, because of its insufficiency and its being interpreted as a weapon of the weak. They state that non-violence is militant in character.

Gandhi disliked both the terms ‘passive resistance’ and ‘civil disobedience’ to describe his approach, and coined another term, ‘Satyagraha’ (Sanskrit, ‘truth and firmness’). Satyagraha has also been called ‘soul force’.

Gandhian principles played a part in inspiring similar movements throughout the world, removing dictators over the last 15 years in countries as far apart as the Philippines and Poland, while providing the inspiration for the American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King. In 1959, Dr. and Mrs. King spend a month in India studying Gandhi’s techniques of non-violence as guests of Prime Minister Jawaharal Nehru.

The US Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was a struggle by black Americans to gain full citizenship rights and achieve racial equality. Individuals and organizations challenged discrimination with a variety of activities, including protest marches, boycotts, and refusal to abide by segregation laws. Many believe that the movement began with the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 and ended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, though some argue that it has not ended yet.

The Civil Rights Movement in the United States had two clear strands:

  • Reform: The Southern Christian Leadership Council. Luther King's non-violent approach.
  • Revolutionary: The Black Panthers, Malcolm X

Malcolm X rejected non-violence as a principle, but he sought co-operation with Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists who favoured aggressive non-violent protests.

Martin Luther-King studied Gandhi’s principles and methods. However, as Robert Frick (Ph.D.) noted his situation was slightly different from Gandhi's, so he needed slightly different principles.

The major principles of King’s non-violence movement were:

  • Non-violence is a way of life for courageous people.
  • Non-violence seeks to win friendship and understanding
  • Non-violence seeks to defeat injustices, not people
  • Non-violence holds that suffering for a cause can educate and transform
  • Non-violence chooses love instead of hate
  • Non-violence holds that the universe is on the side of justice and that right will prevail

Martin Luther King, and his policy of non-violent protest, was the dominant force in the civil rights movement during its decade of greatest achievement, from 1957 to 1968. His lectures and remarks stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. The movements and marches he led brought significant changes in American life. Strategic direct action became the movement’s salient strategic weapon. The tactics employed included:

  • Sit-ins
  • Freedom riders (on buses)
  • Demonstrations and Marches

There is further information on these below.

King summoned together a number of black leaders in 1957 and laid the groundwork for the organization now known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). King was elected its president, and he soon began helping other communities organize their own protests against discrimination.

Dr. King’s concept of 'somebodiness' gave black and poor people a new sense of worth and dignity. His philosophy of non-violent direct action, and his strategies for rational and non-destructive social change, electrified the conscience of this nation and re-ordered its priorities. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, for example, went to Congress as a result of the Selma to Montgomery march. His wisdom, his words, his actions, his commitment, and his dreams for a new cast of life fired the movement. His 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech dealing with peace and racial equality is one of the most powerful speeches in American history.

The tactics employed by King’s movement included:

In 1960, four black students asked to be served at Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, reserved for white customers only. When refused they staged a sit-in protest. By 1961, 70,000 had taken part in similar sit-ins. These protests gained publicity for the plight of blacks in the South.

Freedom Riders
These were groups of black and white protesters who rode segregated buses across the Southern States. Sometimes, they were ambushed and attacked by white youths. When they reached their destination – usually a heavily segregated town, they would organize sit-ins. Freedom riders got great publicity for the Civil Rights cause.

Demonstrations and Marches
Peaceful demonstrations and marches were very powerful Civil Rights tactics. When demonstrators were attacked by white police forces e.g. Birmingham, Alabama, April 1963, (dogs, fire hoses and cattle prods used) public opinion came down on the Civil Rights protestors, rather than bigoted police chiefs.

King was recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, which increased his credibility enormously.

After 1965 the focus of the civil rights movement began to change. Martin Luther King, Jr., focused on poverty and racial inequality in the North. Younger activists criticized his interracial strategy and appeals to moral idealism. In 1968, King was assassinated by a gunman in Memphis, Tennessee.

For many, the civil rights movement ended with the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Some argue that the movement is not yet over because the goal of full equality has not been achieved. Racial problems still exist, and urban poverty among black people is a social reality.

The Environmental Movement

The environmental movement has its roots dating back into the 1890s. When it began life, it was mainly a movement composed of people from the better off sectors of society, who were concerned about issues of preservation or management of the wilderness, and whose critique of society did not generally go beyond these concerns.. It was a conservative movement.

The modern environmental movement did not develop until the 1960s when it became more of a social change movement, with radical strands. This was an era of real social change (free speech, civil rights, women’s rights, anti-war etc.), with increased concern over issues such as toxic chemicals, polluted air and water etc..

The movement was fuelled by Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’ in 1963 (which exposed the effects of DDT - a ‘pest’ spray that killed insects, entered the food chain and caused cancer and genetic damage – and led to it being banned from the market) and by crises such as the toxic smogs in the UK and USA from the 1940s to the 1960s. It broadened its focus to become concerned not only with protecting the wilderness, but also with the impact of environmental degradation on people's daily lives.

However, the ‘Environmental History Timeline’ states that although ‘Silent Spring’ fuelled the movement, it is clear that long before Silent Spring was written (or Greenpeace activists defied whalers’ harpoons!) many thousands of ‘green crusaders’ tried to stop pollution, promote public health and preserve wilderness.

In the sixties and seventies a radical environmental movement began to emerge made up of groups concerned with the degradation of the environment not as a wilderness issue, but as a part of daily life. Recycling was promoted, and wider issues such as the dangers of chemicals in the food chain, polluted air and water etc. were promoted to persuade people that protection of the environment was an important issue. Most of the people involved in these groups were young people, influenced by the antiwar movement and by the counterculture.

At roughly the same time, some progressive labor activists were beginning to raise issues having to do with occupational safety and health, with the presence of toxic chemicals and other environmental hazards in the workplace. Both labor environmentalism and radical environmentalism (or ecology, as it was usually called) were concerned not only with protecting the wilderness, but also with the impact of environmental degradation on people's daily lives.

In the seventies both radical and mainstream environmentalism grew, but both sectors of environmentalism remained overwhelmingly white and, except for efforts by labor activists around occupational safety and health, overwhelmingly composed of middle and upper-middle class people, especially students and professionals.

In the late seventies and early eighties a new grassroots environmental movement began to emerge involving constituencies previously distant from environmentalism: lower middle class and working class whites, colored people and rural communities. The movement then began to ‘take off’, with rapid growth of the number of environmental organizations and issues covered, and a wider variety of approaches (from practical/service delivery to radical advocacy, with a broad base of mainstream/populist support).

The range of environmental issues that organizations campaign about is now vast (covering issues such as water, air, forests, wetlands, animals and habitats, anti-war and anti-nuclear, and wastes).

The environmental movement has grown into a powerful force, which gathers more political and popular support with the emergence of each new environmental crisis. Also, unlike most social change movements, it benefits from extremely concrete benchmarks (things like tons of CO2 emissions prevented; acres of rainforest and coral reef preserved; species saved from extinction etc.). However, in terms of the ultimate conservation objective of building a civilization that can thrive on this planet without destroying it, then the movement could be said to be failing.

Watch these YouTube videos!

A powerful video depicting social change through resistance. If they did it, so can you!

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech

Frameworks for Social Change Movements


Three Stages
Six Stage Campaign Planning Framework
Five Stage Revolutionary Movement Framework
Eight Stage Reform Social Movement' Framework
Five Major Stages of the Movement


These frameworks can help us to understand how social change movements develop over time, and enable us to conceptualise our day-to-day work. Understanding the stages of development can ensure that we are not disheartened or de-motivated at certain stages. It also helps our movement to build effective strategies - based on our stage of development and the need to work towards the next stage.

Three Stages

The great social reformer, John Stuart Mill provided this simple analysis of the stages of social movements.

""Every great movement has to experience three stages:

  • Ridicule
  • Discussion
  • Adoption."

Six Stage Campaign Planning Framework

(Martin Luther King, Jr.)

For assisting the group to think ahead about what they will need to prepare for as their campaign builds. In this case, the group begins by framing their issue, then goes into the following stages:

  • Gather information
  • Do education and leadership development
  • Negotiate with target
  • Increase motivation and commitment for the struggle ahead
  • Direct action
  • Create new relationship with opponent, which reflects the new power reality

This movement theory has become folklore over the years and is oft repeated – for example Sharman (2006). It is a neat and simple model, but does not tell students of social change very much about the change process. Analysts of the progress of social movements have developed other useful models, which are less well-known to the animal welfare movement but which would be usefully to study. These were summarised by World Animal Net for this purpose, and are included below.

Five Stage Revolutionary Movement Framework

(George Lakey)

Working with developmental sociology, this framework assumes that for revolutionary change a movement (or coalition of movements) needs to work on many levels at once and in a cyclical way. For simplicity, the five stages are presented in sequence that shows how each preceding stage builds capacity for the next stage. This framework assumes that polarisation strongly increases in society as the movement develops.

The five stages are:

  • Cultural preparation
  • Organization-building
  • Confrontation
  • Mass non-cooperation
  • Parallel institutions that can carry out the legitimate functions formerly carried out by the Old Order (economic, maintaining infrastructure, decision-making, etc.

Created by George Lakey, described in ‘Globalise Liberation’, edited by David Solnit.

Eight Stage Reform Social Movement Framework

Movement Action Plan, or MAP, by Bill Moyer

Draws from social movements in liberal democratic societies, which have brought about important changes while often opening the way to new movements, as the civil rights movement opened political space for the women’s movement, gay rights movement, and many other movements.

This framework emphasises the intimate relationship between movement development and public opinion and minimises polarisation; the regime typically reacts to very heavy build-up of momentum by granting a reform in order to stave off polarisation that might be dangerous to it. The framework gives direct action a prominent place and also explains the letdown, which typically occurs in successful social movements after the mass mobilisations force a political shift, which is largely hidden from activist view.

Created by Bill Moyer and described in his last book, ‘Doing Democracy’, MAP is a useful framework, especially in understanding how to steer an organisation through the ups and downs of a cause.

Stage One: Business as Usual
Only a relatively few people care about the issue at this point, and they form small groups to support each other. Their objective: to get people thinking. They do their best to spread the word, often using education and broad awareness.

Stage Two: Failure of Established Channels
A major reason why most of the public does not inform itself and act on an injustice is that people think (or hope) that established structures are taking care of it. In this stage the small groups challenge the established channels. They often do research and investigations. They may sue governmental agencies, or use any opportunities to appeal that exist in the regulations. Usually the activists lose, at this stage, but it is very important that they take these steps. This step is essential for change, since large-scale participation will not happen as long as people believe in the established channels.

Stage Three: Ripening Conditions/Education and Organizing
Now the pace picks up considerably, when many people who earlier did not want to listen become interested. The movement creates many new groups who work on this issue, largely through education. They hold seminars, meetings and news conferences. Much of the content of what they say is refuting power holders’ claims: This stage of constant outreach, through education and forming new groups is essential for the movement to take off.

Stage Four: Takeoff
This stage is usually initiated by a trigger event; a dramatic happening that puts a spotlight on the problem, sparking wide public attention and concern. Sometimes the movement creates the trigger event. In 1963 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., focussed on Birmingham, Alabama, in a direct action campaign that filled the jails and highlighted the evils of segregation with vivid pictures of police dogs and fire hoses. The Birmingham campaign triggered a national and international response, which resulted in the passage of major civil rights legislation.

Sometimes the trigger event just happens, like the near meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in 1979. Three Mile Island (TMI) precipitated massive non-violent protest and propelled many new people into activity.

Because of the high media profile in this stage, many people associate social change with stage four. Often one or more large coalitions form at this time. Celebrities join the movement; the power holders are shocked by the new opposition and publicity and try to discredit the movement.

The objectives of stage four are to build and coordinate a new grassroots movement and to win over public opinion. Part of winning the public is connecting the demands of the movement with widely held values (like freedom, fairness, or democracy).

Stage Five: Perception of Failure
There’s an old phrase: ‘Two steps forward, one step back.’ Stage five is the step back, in the perception of many activists. Numbers are down at demonstrations, the media pay less attention, and the policy changes have not yet been won. The power holders’ official line is, ‘The movement failed.’ The media focuses on splits in the movement and especially on activities, which offend public sensibilities.

It is the excitement and lack of planning on stage four that create the sense of failure in stage five. By believing that success is at hand, activists can become disillusioned and despairing when they realise they aren’t there yet. Hoping the recapture the excitement and confidence of stage four, some groups create Rambo-style actions of anger and violence or become a permanent counterculture sect that is isolated and ineffective.

Fortunately, a great many activists do not become discouraged, or if they do, accept it as part of the process. Smart strategists lay out strategic, achievable and measurable objectives, and smart movements celebrate them as they achieve them along the way. The power holders may try to crush the movement through repression at this point, even if they have felt constrained before by a civil liberties tradition.

Stage Six: Winning Over the Majority
In this stage the movement transforms. Protest in crisis gives way to long-term struggle with power holders. The goal is to win majority opinion. Many new groups, which include people who previously were not active, are formed. The new groups do grassroots education and action. The issue shows up in electoral campaigns, and some candidates get elected on this platform. Broader coalitions become possible, and mainstream institutions expand their own programs to include the issue.

Until stage six, much of the movement’s energy was focussed on opposition. In stage six, sixty to seventy-five percent of the public agrees on a need for change. There is now a vast audience ready to think about alternatives to existing policies, and the smart movement offers some. Mainstream institutions can be helpful at this point. One example comes from the anti-Vietnam War movement: universities responded to stage four with peace studies courses and departments, and during stage six many of the scholars involved began thinking about alternatives to the war system.

The power holders are not passive. They try to discredit and disrupt the movement, insist there is no positive alternative, promote bogus reforms, and sometimes create crisis events to scare the public. The power holders themselves also become more split in this period.

The dangers of this stage are: national organisations and staff may dominate the movement and reduce grassroots energy; reformers may compromise too much or try to deliver the movement into the hands of politicians; a belief may spread that the movement is failing because it has not yet succeeded.

Stage Seven: Achieving Alternatives
Stages seven and eight could be called managing success. They are tricky, however, because the game isn’t over until it’s over. In stage seven, the goals are to recognise the movement’s success (not as easy as it sounds!), then empower activists and their organisations to act effectively, to achieve a major objective or demand, and to achieve that demand within the framework of a paradigm shift - a new model or way of thinking about the issue.

Goals or demands need to be consistent with a different way of looking at things: a new framework or paradigm. If a civil rights movement simply demands some changes of personnel in government, industry, or schools, it will get more women, people of colour or lesbians and gays occupying functions that continue business as usual, including policies which oppress women, people of colour, and gays. Social movements are usually much more creative than that, and project new visions of how things can be.

Stage seven is a long process, not an event. The struggle shifts in this stage from opposing present policies to creating dialogue about which alternatives to adopt. The movement will have differences within itself about alternatives, and different groups will market different alternatives to the public. The central power holders will try their last gambits, including study commissions and bogus alternatives, and then be forced to change their policies, have their policies defeated, or lose office.

Stage Eight: Consolidation and Moving On
The movement leaders need to protect and extend the successes achieved. The movement also becomes midwife to other social movements. The long-term focus of stage eight is to achieve a paradigm shift, to change the cultural framework.

The paradigm shift the civil rights movement initiated is still a major part of the U.S. agenda thirty-five years later: diversity as a positive value. While the movement is consolidating its gains and dealing with backlash from those who never were persuaded, the power holders are adapting to new policies and conditions and often claiming the movement’s success as their own. At the same time, they may fail to carry out agreements, fail to pass sufficient new legislation, or weaken the impact of new structures by appointing people who are resistant to the change. A major pitfall for activists in stage eight, therefore, is neglecting to make sure of institutional follow-through.

In this stage, the movement not only can celebrate the specific changes it has gained, but also can notice and celebrate the larger ripple effect it has in other aspects of society and even in other societies. The U.S. movement against nuclear movement was inspired by the mass occupations of construction sites by German environmentalists. On this shrinking planet, we get to learn from and inspire each other internationally.

Five Major Stages of the Movement

This model was adapted from one created by Kim Stallwood, specifically for the animal welfare movement. It was adapted by Janice Cox for World Animal Net and Pioneer Training.

Five Broad Stages Movement Experiences and Tactics Likely Reactions
1. Acceptance Building (broad/softer education)
  • Movement 'Pioneers'
  • Humane Education
  • Media Work
  • Tap into other burning social issues/social change movements
Usually little reaction ('ignore' phase, at best 'ridicule' phase!)
2. Awareness/consensus building
  • 'Pioneers' attract followers
  • Movement capacity-building and training
  • Investigations and research to expose problem
  • Media work and events
  • Heavy campaigning/mass mobilization
  • Using charismatic individuals and leaders to motivate and mobilize
  • Political initiatives/lobbying
  • Building consensus (see '100 monkeys' theory)
  • Involve/negoatiate with other interest groups: politicians, civil servants, industry, public, media, scientists/academics, other social change movements, etc.
  • Conferences/platforms
  • Need for alternative models (e.g. alternatives to experiments, vegetarian foods, human circuses, more humane systems etc.)
  • Use economic arguments/Create favourable economic conditions for change
  • Humane education
  • Beware token or 'bogus' consultation!
  • Use trigger events!
  • Growing interests and awareness amongst sympathetic audiences
  • Other interest groups pick up: politicians, civil servants, industry, public, media, scientists/academics, etc.
  • Industry 'education'/misinformation
  • Industry discrediting movement
  • Industry lobbying
  • Industry using economic arguments (effect on competitiveness, trade, national industry, etc.)
  • Government lethargy/inaction (or worse still, joining industry)
  • Political initiatives/lobbying
  • Government committees
  • Beware token or 'bogus' consultation!
  • Beware 'bogus' reforms! Or worse still--institutionalizing cruelty/abuse.
  • Humane education
  • Media Work
  • This is the beginning of the 'adoption' phase.
  • Legislation drafted and passed
  • Structures/systems put into place
  • Media loses interest
  • Industry vying for key consultative role (and using allies)
  • Industry vying for 'self-regulation'
4. Action to embed legislation
  • Investigations and exposés
  • Media
  • Legal cases
  • Humane education
  • Industry fighting back (but beginning to be on defensive)
  • Government action begins to favour movement, rather than industry
 5. Functioning system of protection
  • Investigations/inspections (cross-checking, keep on toes)
  • Propogate through media
  • Propogate through schools/universities and the family
  • Celebrate success and spread to other social change movements! 
  • Industry tries to reverse
  • Industry relocates to less controlled/low costs environments
  • Government adopts cause and tries to spread
 Based on model by Kim Stallwood  Observations from Janice Cox  

Social Development and Social Change


What is Social Development?
Key Social Development Principles
Bringing About Social Change
The Role of Civil Society
The Role of Individuals in Social Change
The Role of the Pioneer in Social Change
Multiplier Effect

What is Social Development?

Social Development encompasses a commitment to individual and societal well-being, and the opportunity for citizens to determine their own and their society’s needs and to influence decisions that affect these. Social change incorporates public concerns in developing social policy and economic initiatives.

Until relatively recently, social development was conceived in terms of a set of desirable results - higher incomes, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, more and better education etc. Recently emphasis has shifted from the results to the enabling conditions, strategies and public policies for achieving those results. But still little attention has been placed on the underlying social process of development that determines how society formulates, adopts, initiates, and organies; and few attempts have been made to formulate such a framework. However, there are some recognized theories and principles, which will be examined briefly.

Key Social Development Principles

Social development is defined in the broadest social terms as an upward directional movement of society from lesser to greater levels of energy, efficiency, quality, productivity, complexity, comprehension, creativity, choice, mastery, enjoyment and accomplishment. Growth and development usually go together, but they are different phenomena subject to different laws. Growth involves an expansion of existing types and forms of activities. Development involves a qualitative enhancement. Social development is driven by the subconscious aspirations of society for advancement or progress. Society (and individuals) will seek the progressive fulfillment of a prioritized hierarchy of needs.

Motivation is complex and highly individual. The motivation to work can be physical (earning money for food or shelter), psychological (seeking social satisfaction or security) or more unconscious and instinctive – which applies particularly to altruistic and self-fulfillment reasons. One of the most popular theories explaining motivation is Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’, which categorizes human motivations as follows:


The theory works on the basis that needs are only motivators when they are unsatisfied. The lower order needs (physiology and safety) are dominant until satisfied, when the higher needs come into being.

This theory is important in terms of social development theory, as it helps to explain why more altruistic concerns (such as animal welfare activity) are often not burning social issues until society has developed to a level that meets individuals’ lower order needs (personal, shelter, security etc.).

As can be seen, in the course of social development, society is moved by a range of different psychological motives. Self actualizing motives (wanting self-development and social progress for altruistic and ethical reasons) are normally the last to be fulfilled. However, the globalization of culture and information is bringing such concerns more rapidly into public consciousness. The revolution of rising expectations represents a new and more powerful motivating force for development; which by its nature is not limited, as all the others have been, to a specific class or section of society.

Development of society occurs only in fields where the collective will is sufficiently strong and seeking expression. Development strategies will be most effective when they focus on identifying areas where the social will is mature and can provide better means for the awakened social energy to express itself. Only those initiatives that are in concordance with this subconscious urge will be likely to succeed and gain ‘critical-mass’.

Every society possesses a huge reservoir of potential human energy that is absorbed and held static in its organized foundations - its cultural values, physical security, social beliefs, and political structures. At times of transition, crisis, and opportunities, those energies are released and expressed in action. Policies, strategies, and programs that tap this latent energy and channel it into constructive activities can stir an entire nation to action and rapid advancement.

The theory of critical mass was expounded by Nobel Prize winner Thomas Schelling (back in 1969-1971), and is explained in further detail in a new book of his ‘Game Theory’ by Dodge (2012). It is also known as the ‘bandwagon effect’. The success or failure of many things is determined by whether ‘critical mass’ is achieved; so increasing numbers are encouraged to join movements as they gain attention and impact. Schelling also introduced the concept of the ‘tipping point’, which is the exact point at which a movement becomes self-sustaining.

[Take the example of the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011 – what seemed like a sudden and spontaneous wave of protests actually had its roots in revolts dating back to the 1800s. The catalyst for the current escalation of protests was when a Tunisian set himself alight and died as a protest. This brought various disaffected groups together, forming the Tunisian Revolution.]

However, social change requires an enormous investment of energy to break existing patterns of social behavior and form new ones. Change is triggered when societal energies accumulate beyond the level required for functioning at the present level. The social energy may be released in response to the opening up of a new opportunity or confrontation by a severe challenge. Where different cultures meet and blend, explosive energies for social evolution are released.

The rate and extent of development is determined by prevalent social attitudes, which control the flow of social energies. Where attitudes are not conducive, development strategies will not yield results. In this case the emphasis should be placed on strategies to bring about a change in societal attitudes - such as public education and awareness, demonstration, and encouragement of successful pioneers.

The implications of this for the animal welfare movement can be that if the ‘time is not ripe’ for the animal movement to ‘take off’ as a social movement in its own right in certain countries, then tapping into other burgeoning social change concerns may be necessary (whilst always building the capacity, models, awareness and moral force needed to grow the animal welfare movement).

Bringing About Social Change

There are various social change models. These all require public awareness and learning, and consensus building (building critical mass), before policy change can effectively be implemented and enforced. Section 3 of this module covers social movement frameworks, which explain the (various) programs of social change movements to bring about such change.

We found the following social change model applicable and relevant to animal welfare. It is a model of the stages needed to institutionalize social change:

  • Official structures – the development of departments or individuals dealing with the issue (when there is a need to put the issue on the agenda)
  • Legislation – when the need for official policy change is accepted
  • Enforcement – when the authorities accept the need to enforce change
  • Transmission by education – when it is accepted that this needs to be an issue for society
  • Cultural transmission by family – when the issue is generally accepted, and grassroots education takes place within families

The last two stages can be grouped together as ‘public awareness and support’, which is a long-term process beginning with education and ending with final acceptance in the family unit.

It is important to remember that social change does not occur until all stages of the social change model have been accomplished. It is a common mistake to view policy change in terms of obtaining policies/laws alone, without considering the structures and enforcement needed to implement these. A policy or law is not worth the paper it is written on if it is not put into practical effect. In fact, policy change objectives may be seen as an intermediate aim, with change in practice being the end point that brings real improvements in the situation of the animals.

The problem for various social change movements is how to press their movement’s concerns up the ladder of people’s own ‘hierarchy of needs’. That is: ‘how to make the issue become a priority to people?’ This is a real problem for animal welfare, as the suffering does not impact directly upon individual humans (i.e. it is not a personal problem, and requires altruism and empathy to be considered important). Increased awareness can accelerate this process. But to become a burning issue, there needs to be emotional engagement, intellectual challenge, and/or a real sense of justice (a strong ethical perspective).

The process of discovery expands human consciousness. The process of application enhances social organization.

This explains why ‘best practice pilot projects’ are important – as they are a practical demonstration of how positive change can take place (and both national and international ‘best practice’ case studies can be used). It also explains why capacity building is necessary – providing not only necessary skills, but also the mindset that positive change is achievable.

Development occurs when pioneering individual initiatives are imitated by others, multiplied and actively supported by the society. Society then actively organizes the new activity by establishing supportive laws, systems and institutions. At the next stage, it integrates the new activity with other fields of activity and assimilates it into its educational system. The activity has become fully assimilated as part of the culture when it is passed on to the next generation as values through the family.

There are various causes of social change. Culture can be a cause, and there are said to be three main sources of cultural change:

The first source is invention. Inventions produce new products, ideas, and social patterns. The invention of rocket propulsion led to space travel, which in the future may lead to inhabitation of other planets.

The second source is discovery. Discovery is finding something that has never been found before, or finding something new in something that already exists.

The third source is diffusion. Diffusion is the spreading of ideas and objects to other societies. This would involve trading, migration, and mass communication.

The ‘mass media’ is a vital factor in the speed of social change. It permits rapid diffusion of ideas, by delivering these in the private and relaxing environs of the home, where audiences are at their most susceptible.

The Role of Civil Society

Social development takes place within a larger evolutionary context. Social learning is a subconscious seeking (for ethics and values, or even reason and purpose) that ultimately leads to conscious knowledge. We experience first and understand later. Our mental comprehension perpetually lags behind physical experience and struggles to catch up with it. But as society advances, development becomes more conscious and more rapid.

Social movements can also play a pivotal role in promoting change. Civil society or civil institutions refer to the totality of voluntary civic and social organizations or institutions that form the basis of a functioning society as opposed to the force backed structures of a state (regardless of that state's political system).

While there are myriad definitions of civil society, the London School of Economics Centre for Civil Society working definition is illustrative:

“Civil society refers to the arena of un-coerced collective action around shared interests, purposes, and values. In theory, its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, family, and market, though in practice, the boundaries between state, civil society, family, and market are often complex, blurred and negotiated. Civil society commonly embraces a diversity of spaces, actors, and institutional forms, varying in their degree of formality, autonomy, and power. Civil societies are often populated by organizations such as registered charities, development non-governmental organizations, community groups, women's organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, trades unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions and advocacy group.”

Civil society organizations, particularly those in the social change sector, are strong proponents of the public sphere, and frequently make public policy discussion and public education major parts of their missions. They seek to effect change through dialogue with others sharing an interest in a social concern. In recent years, the rise of the new communications technologies and the Internet has had a significant effect on public sphere communications. The rapid evolution of the Internet has led many civil society organizations to adopt different software tools and information dissemination techniques to enhance their strategic effectiveness for social change.

Role of the Individual in Social Change

Society has no direct means to give conscious expression to its subconscious collective aspirations and urges. That essential role is played by pioneering conscious individuals - visionary intellectuals, political leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and spiritual seekers who are inspired to express and achieve what the collective subconsciously aspires to and is prepared for. Where the aspiration and action of the leader do not reflect the will of the collective, it is ignored or rejected. Where it gives expression to a deeply felt collective urge, it is endorsed, imitated, supported, and systematically propagated. This is most evident at times of war, social revolution, or communal conflict.

For example, India’s early freedom fighters consciously advocated the goal of freedom from British rule long before that goal had become a felt aspiration of the masses. The leaders spent decades urging a reluctant population to conceive of itself as a free nation and to aspire to achieve that dream. When finally the collective endorsed this conception, no foreign nation had the power to impose its will on the Indian people.

All human creative processes release and harness human energy and convert it into results. The process of skill formation involves acquiring mastery over our physical-nervous energies so that we can direct our physical movements in a precisely controlled manner. In the absence of skill, physical movements are clumsy, inefficient, and unproductive, like the stumbling efforts of a child learning to walk. Whilst the energies are the motivating force, it is strategic ability and professional skills that turn energy into effective action. Often the high emotions of social change movements are a facet of this undirected energy. Strategic advocacy helps to direct this energy, focusing it in directions where change can most effectively be triggered.

Development occurs when the subconscious preparedness of society leads to the generation of new ideas and conscious initiatives by individuals. The accumulated surplus energy of society releases the initiative of pioneers who apply new ideas, acquire new skills and introduce new types of activities. Imitation of successful pioneers eventually attracts the attention and overcomes the resistance of conservative forces in society, leading the society to accept and embrace the new activity.

The potentials for development always far exceed the initiative of society to exploit them. The actual achievements of society depend on the measure that it is ready to actively respond to new opportunities and challenges. That response is the real determinant of development. Three fundamental conditions determine a society’s level of preparedness: energy, awareness and aspiration.

Role of the Pioneer in Social Change

Social progress is stimulated by pioneering individuals who become conscious of new opportunities and initiate new behaviors and activities to take advantage of them. Pioneers are the lever or spearhead for collective advancement. Pioneers give conscious expression to the subconscious urges and readiness of society.

When society is subconsciously prepared for change, it still needs an agent through which to express this preparedness in action. In natural development, that is the role of pioneering individuals. Once society is prepared, sooner or later it gives rise to the initiative of one or more pioneering individuals who break out from the existing mold and attempt something new. Although exceptional and eccentric individuals may initiate new activities in any society, these activities usually disappear with the passing of their founder or give rise to isolated imitation that never acquires significant momentum. The social change pioneer is a conscious product of the society whose aspiration and initiative give expression to the subconscious aspiration of the society in which he lives.

Every new developmental activity is initially conceived and introduced by one or a few pioneers. The pioneer is one who sees, believes in and acts upon an opportunity that others fail to see or believe in; or lack the energy or courage to pursue. The pioneer exhibits a new understanding, new attitudes, new skills and behaviors different from those prevalent in the community at the time. If the pioneer’s initiative is in tune with the social aspiration and social preparedness, it inspires and encourages other dynamic individuals to imitate or improve upon the new initiative.

The role of the pioneer is vital to social change, because the next stage of social progress almost always remains unseen by the collective. It is the free thinking, far seeking individual who dares to imagine or conceive what the popular mind is unaware of and then translates that vague possibility into a reality that all can see. By acquiring one new or different attribute or behavior, he charts a new course and reveals a new possibility, all the time basing him or herself on the society’s present accomplishments and in most cases moving in a direction that the society has already indicated.

Max Weber thought that the expression of ideas by charismatic individuals could change the world. Here are some examples of influential people who caused changes in the world (good and bad): Martin Luther King, Jr.; Adolf Hitler; Mao Tseng Tug; Mohandas Gandhi & Nelson Mandela.

Multiplier Effect

It does not really matter whether pioneers come forward on their own internal prompting or in response to an opportunity or demonstration created by government. In either case, the individual embodies and represents the social initiative. What does matter is the response of the society to the pioneer. Often the early pioneer meets with a response of indifference, resistance, contempt or hostility from the community around him, especially when his actions represent a radical departure from the status quo. This usually occurs when the pioneer comes too much before his time, before society is fully ready to act on its urge for something new. At other times the successful pioneer is actively admired and respected, yet no one else comes forward to imitate his success. In either case, the pioneer’s initiative fails to catch on. If the pioneer pushes through change before the society is fully prepared, the change comes abruptly in the form of a revolution. If society is fully prepared to accept and follow the pioneer, then the change occurs by a smooth evolution. Revolution is premature evolution.

Under appropriate conditions, the success of the pioneer leads to active imitation by other adventurous individuals who in turn serve as models for still others to imitate. In this case, the initiative of the pioneer gets multiplied over and over, rippling through the society and unleashing a social change movement. Once the momentum has begun, there is no holding back the tide. We often see the situation where progress in one country takes a long while, then gradually other countries follow suit, then more and more follow.

The ‘100th monkey theory’ below is very interesting!

The 100th Monkey Theory

A story about social change
By Ken Keyes Jr.

The Japanese monkey, Macaca Fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years.

In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkey liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.

An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers too.

Various monkeys gradually picked up this cultural innovation before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes … the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let's further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes. THEN IT HAPPENED!

By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!

But there is more! A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea... Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes.

Thus, when a certain critical number achieves awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind.

Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people.

But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!


Human development is a function of human awareness, aspirations, attitudes and values. Like all human creative processes, it is a process of self-conception. As the writer, artist, composer, political visionary and businessman conceive of unrealized possibilities and pour forth their creative energies to give expression to them, the social collective evolves a conception of what it wants to become and by expressing its creative energies through myriad forms of activity seeks to transform its conception into social reality.

Society is a subconscious living organism, which strives to survive, grow and develop. Individual members of society express conscious intention in their words and acts, but these are only surface expressions of deeper subconscious drives that move the society-at-large. The consciousness of a true collective organism is not merely the sum of its individual parts, but acquires its own identifiable character and personality.

This concept of social development holds very important implications for the future of humanity and the prospects for progress in the next century. It suggests that there are no inherent limits either to the speed or to the extent of the development process, other than those imposed by the limitations of our thought, knowledge, and aspirations. If we change our view, the character of this process can be transformed from the slow, trial and error subconscious process we have known in the past to a swift, sure leaping progress from height to greater height.

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