Social Movements – Week 5 and 8

Question: By now, you’ve read quite a bit of social movement literature. Choose two frameworks we have covered and explain to us how you think they will be useful to you in analyzing your chosen social movement. Remember, your classmates don’t necessarily know anything about your movement so start with a short paragraph long 

Massive demonstrations occurred all over Brazil where people shared a common identity of antimilitary sentiment and Marxist values. The social structure of Brazil had shifted from one of outrage to one of collective motion. Brazilians formed a massive labor movement in Brazil and started voting en masse as an act of protest. This gave way to the Democratic Movement Party and PT party in Brazil where the labor movement now had new resources, leadership, and organization to bargain with the state. The Democratic Movement Party PT party lead to the fall of the military regime in Brazil and paved the way for socialist democracy with the protest vote that would eventually oust the military regime.

The two frameworks that I believe will be most helpful when analzing the Marxist movement in Brazil is contentious political action and social networks.  Firstly, political contention was all over Brazil in numerous ways.  There were rural worker’s strikes that took up arms against authority and rebel groups using violence such as bank roberies and kidnappings to pressure authority for regime change.  The contentious political action of violence was a mechanism against the regime, and it put pressure on the state.

The second framework I am using to analyze my social movement is social networks.  In Brazil, there were massive networks of people connected by class, culture, and shared beliefs and values.  For example, the middle class made up of professionals and the educated masses gathered for massive demostrations in Brazil against the regime by the millions.  The middle class movement shared the common grievances that the state was restricting civil rights and liberties.  Another group shared by a network were the students.  The students were connected through universities and shared common Marxist philosophies.  The students were the first enemy of the regime and therefore became a proponent of ending the regime.  The students formed massive demonstrations and had printed information passed around between cities; the students had a wide circle of networking all across Brazil brought together by a shared common identity.

Topic:  Use the literature we have covered in lectures and our readings to explain the difference in the effectiveness of the movement that produced Prohibition and the MADD movement.  Remember, the purpose of the literature is to explain phenomenon.  We are interested in why something happened the way it did.  We aren’t interested in merely describing what happened.

The purpose of this article is to explain the differences in the degree to which the Prohibition and MADD movement’s origins were a success.  First, it will be import to address how these movement were produced and then discuss how effective these movement were.

The Prohibition movement started in the 1820s with the rise of the temperance movement and rose in the 1840s lead by religious Protestant groups.   By 1869 temperance became an important policy issue when the national political party Prohibition Party was founded. The Prohibition Party’s policy was to enact laws prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol.  In 1873, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCIU) was founded.  The WCIU were advocates of women and children and believed through education and awareness could prevent abuse from alcoholic husbands.

The Prohibition Party and WCIU were very influential in lobbying for the Prohibition movement.  The temperance movement gained steamed when the group the Anti-Saloon League began attacking the sale and consumption of alcohol in 1906.  By 1917, Prohibition began to take affect with the passing of the 18th Amendment.  The movement took several decades to enact policy change but was eventually successful.

The Prohibition movement used morality as a way to make meaning and this proved to be very successful for the movement.  The movement framed alcohol drinking as a sin, using the religion notion of the “deadly sin” gluttony as a way to attack drinking and create meaning through religious dogma.  This was very important for the movement as it appealed to powerful religious groups and appealed to individuals.  The actions of the WCIU appealed to the sentiment of women and family values, and the Anti-Saloon Leagues’s attack on saloon culture appealed to individual’s values of what was socially acceptable.

While the Prohibition movement took decades to gain steam and supporters and eventually change policy, the MADD movement occurred rather suddenly over the course of years.  The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (formerly Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) was formed out of crisis.  Candance Lightner former MADD after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 1980.

The media was quick to pick up on the Lightner story and created a movie based on the death of Lightner’s daughter.  This created a massive awareness of the issue of drunk driving.  Because of the widespread use of the television, the MADD movement was able to (unlike Prohibition) nationalize the issue in a short period of time, gaining supporters from all over the country.  MADD continues to use stories to appeal to the sentiments of people and dramaticize events to create crisis and drive mobilization for its cause.

Through candlelight vigil’s, the movement was able to demonstrate solidarity in the deaths of victims of drunk driving.  Unlike the protest which is an act of contention against government, the candlelight vigil is a symbolic act of public awareness of death; death and remembrance services bring a sense of community to individuals and allows for relieving of grievances.  Framing drunk driving as a form of death created meaning in the movement.

The MADD movement’s success continued as the movement was brought to the national stage with a Congressional press conference.  The press conference brought further media attention to the movement and put the issue of drunk driving on the Congressional agenda.  MADD began gaining more and more volunteers across the country and gained support from family members of victims of drunk drivers and others sympathetic to MADD’s cause.  Because MADD appealed to family values and sentiment and dramatized events, it was able to gain funding and support.

Through tools such lobbying, media framing, usage of statistics, and public service announcements, MADD was able to change policy by changing the alcoholic limit law from .10 to .08 levels.  This was a important victory for the MADD movement and remarkable that a group could be so influential toward changing policy on the national level in such a short period of time.  The MADD movement continues to this day and has even spread to Canada; registered as a non-profit organization, MADD is funded from public donations.

Comparing the Prohibition and MADD movement, the MADD movement’s origins proved to be much more successful than the Prohibition movement.  The Prohibition movement took several decades to gain steam and change policy while the MADD movement gained national support over the course of one year.  Through channels such as television, the MADD movement was able to spread its network nationally while the Prohibition movement was largely lead on the local front.  Prohibition failed to institutionalize at the national level.

MADD was able to build connective structures of the public on the national level bringing individuals together in solidarity making meaning through the death of loved ones.  Unlike Prohibition, every member or supporter of the MADD movement was brought together in solidarity for a common purpose.  The Prohibition movement on the other hand failed to build national connective structures because the movement’s supporters were too grouped on local levels, members supporting different arguments such as some supported Prohibition because of religious reasons while some supported temperance because of the rights of women and children.  MADD was able to target its focus and create an antagonist as the repeat offender, the criminal, while Prohibition targeted everyone and created a criminal in all individuals.

Another way the creation of the MADD movement was more successful than the creation of Prohibition was in the movement’s various organization mechanisms.  Movements face a need to balance structure and flexibility; the Prohibition movement lacked structure at the national level having no leaders and no central organization for the movement.  The movement was a myriad amount of voices in favor of temperance and the Prohibition law was a reaction to the voices.  Once the main players voices became silent and lost interest in the movement, the movement failed; Prohibition was not able to last more than two decades before repeal.  The movement’s structure was too loose such that the movement splintered.

The MADD movement is an organization and has central leadership and a centrally organized agenda; through this organization, the movement is able to channel its message effectively to the state.  Through localization at the state level, the MADD movement is able to remain flexible to adapt to the various laws related to alcohol that differ in each state.

In conclusion, the MADD movement’s origins proved to be far more successful than the origins of the Prohibition movement.  While both movements were able to create national policy change, MADD proved to be far more successful in maintaining that change.  While the Prohibition movement vanished, the MADD movement continues today.  While both movements supported the themes of temperance, the MADD movement, not the Prohibition movement, attached abusers of alcohol not users of alcohol, therefore demonizing target populations rather than all individuals.


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