The Significance of Social Movements in US Politics

Discussion 9: The Significance of Social Movements in US Politics
Please note: This discussion will be graded and you need to post twice: one original post and one post responding to someone else. Please cite pages and consider using direct quotes from the reading to support your points. Be considerate in your responses to your peers (and follow the norms of ‘netiquette’ listed in the introduction module).
Throughout the quarter we have been considering how well the US political system achieves a form of democracy. How doe this week’s readings on social movements fit into this discussion? Do social movements bring the US closer to a more equitable form of representation? Do they give power to groups who would otherwise lose out to more powerful interests? How meaningful is the change that social movements are able to achieve?
Please explore this topic while drawing on at least one of the readings from this week.
Among the questions you might want to address:
1. What gives a movement power? For instance, are movements more successful when they are able to disrupt the normal routines of society, government and/or the economy? Is this different from simply holding a demonstration (which might also be a meaningful form of power)?
2. According to Frances Fox Piven, what is it about the roles “ordinary people” play in society that allows them to exert an impact on political and social elites who have the advantage of more resources? Is her analysis convincing?
3. Can social movements “level the playing field” and give some groups a degree of political influence they might lack in the interest group process we looked at two weeks ago? (For instance, in comparison to “iron triangles”?)
4. Are there specific examples in this week’s reading that particularly seem to illustrate the potential power of social movements?
5. Are we in a period right now where the Black Lives Matter movement is revealing the significant ways social movements can change politics?

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