NCERT Notes for Class 12 Sociology Chapter 8 Social Movements

Class 12 Sociology Chapter 8 Social Movements

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NCERT Notes for Class 12 Sociology Chapter 8 Social Movements

Class 12 Sociology Chapter 8 Social Movements


• Social movements are collective efforts of section of people who want to bring desirable changes in the society.

o Example:

Abolition of Slavery
Civil right movement
Vote for women
Environmental movement
Peace movement
Animal rights
Disability movement
19th century social reform movements
Struggles against caste and gender discrimination
Indian Independence Struggle
  • It play crucial role in the society.
  • It is not only changing societies. They also inspire other social movements.


  • It requires sustained collective action
  • Collective action must be marked by some degree of organisation.
    • It include a leadership and a structure.
    • It also haveshared objectives and ideologies.
    • It bring social changes or resisting changes
  • It cannot change society easily.
  • counter movements
    • It develop against Social Movements
    • Ex: Brahma samaj (Raja Rammohunroy) –Agaistsati , ‘Dharma sabha’ countered. Widow re-marriage, Education for Girls
  • Social movements also develop distinct modes of protest.
    • Gandhi adopted novel ways such as ahimsa, satyagrahaand his use of the charkha in the freedom movement.


Social change Social movements
Social change is continuous and ongoing.


The broad historical processes of social change are the sum total of countless individual and collective actions gathered across time and space.

Example: sanskritisation and westernisation

Social movements are directed towards some specific goals.


It involves long and continuous social effort and action by people.

Example: 19th century social reform movements

Sociology and Social Movements

  • From the very beginning, the discipline of sociology has been interested in social movements.
  • Example: French Revolution, England Revolution, Food riots in England
  • These protests were perceived by elites as a major threat to the established order of society.
  • Their anxiety about maintaining social order was reflected in the work of sociologist Emile Durkheim.
  • Durkheim’s writings about the division of labour in society, forms of religious life, and even suicide, mirror his concern about how social structures enable social integration.
  • Social movements were seen as forces that led to disorder.
  • Scholars influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx and E. P. Thompson


Theory of relative deprivation,

  • This theory emphasises the role of psychological factors, thatleads to social movements.
  • Social movements arise among people who feel deprived.
  • Relative deprivation -Perceived disadvantage arising from some specific comparison.
  • The limitations of this theory are that while perceptions of deprivation may be a necessary condition for collective action, they are not a sufficient reason in themselves.
  • All instances where people feel relatively deprived do not result in social movements.

Mancur Olson’s book The Logic of Collective Actionargues that

  • A social movement is an aggregation of rational individual actors pursuing their self-interest.
  • A person will join a social movement only if s/he will gain something from it.
  • S/he will participate only if the risks are less than the gains.
  • Olson’s theory is based on the notion of the rational, utility-maximising individual.

Resource mobilisation theory

  • Proposed by : McCarthy and Zald
  • It rejected Olson’s assumption that social movements are made up of individuals pursuing their self-interest.
  • Instead, they argued that a social movement’s success depends on its ability to mobilise resources or means of different sorts.
  • If a movement can muster resources such as leadership, organisational capacity, and communication facilities, and can use them within the available political opportunity structure, it is more likely to be effective.
  • Critics argue that a social movement is not limited by existing resources.
  • It can create resources such as new symbols and identities.
  • As numerous poor people’s movements show, scarcity of resources need not be a constraint.


1. Redemptive or Transformatory , Reformist, Revolutionary

Redemptive or TransformatorySocial Movements

  • It aims to bring about a change in the personal consciousness and actions of its individual members.
    • For instance, people in the Ezhava community in Kerala were led by Narayana Guru to change their social practices.

Reformist social movements

  • It strive to change the existing social and political arrangements through gradual, incremental steps.
  • The 1960s movement for the reorganisation of Indian states on the basis of language and the recent Right to Information campaign are examples of reformist movements.

Revolutionary social movements

  • It attempt to radically transform social relations, often by capturing state power.
    • The Bolshevik revolution in Russia ,Naxalite movement in India
  • Most movements have a mix of redemptive, reformist and revolutionary elements.
  • A movement may start from a phase of mass mobilisation and collective protest to become more institutionalised.
  • Social scientists who study the life cycles of social movements call this a move towards social movement organisations’.

‘mutiny’ or ‘rebellion’

• A mutiny is an act of defiance against legitimate authority, i.e., the British rule.

2 . Old and New

  • The old social movements functioned within the frame of political parties.
  • Here the role of political parties was central.
    • The Indian National Congress led the Indian National Movement.
    • The Communist Party of China led the Chinese Revolution.
  • The ‘new’ social movements were not about changing the distribution of power in society but about quality-of-life issues such as having a clean environment.
  • Today, the broader term of civil society is used to refer to both old social movements represented by political parties and trade unions.
  • And to new nongovernmental organisations, women’s groups, environmental groups and tribal activists.
  • Many of the new social movements are international in scope.
  • Old and new movements are working together in new alliances such as the World Social Forum that have been raising awareness about the hazards of globalisation.

Distinction between old and new social movements in the Indian context

  • India has experienced a whole array of social movements involving women, peasants, dalits, adivasis, and others.
  • Gail Omvedt in her book Reinventing Revolutionpoints out that
    • Social inequality and the unequal distribution of resources continue to be important elements in these movements.
  • New social movements are not just about ‘old’ issues of economic inequality. Nor are they organised along class lines alone.
  • Identity politics, cultural anxieties and aspirationsare essential elements in creating social movements and occur in ways that are difficult to trace to class-based inequality.
  • Often, these social movements unite participants across class boundaries.
    • For instance, the women’s movement includes urban, middle-class feminists as well as poor peasant women.


Bishnoi Movement

  • 1700s -Khejarli, Marwar region, Rajasthan state.
  • Leaders: Amrita Devi along with Bishnoi villagers in Khejarli and surrounding villages.
  • Aim: Save sacred trees from being cut down by the king’s soldiers for a new palace.

Chipko Movement

  • 1973- In Chamoli district and later at Tehri-Garhwal district of Uttarakhand.
  • Leaders: SundarlalBahuguna, Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi
  • Aim: The main objective was to protect the trees on the Himalayan slopes from the axes of contractors of the forest.

Save Silent Valley Movement

  • 1978- Silent Valley, an evergreen tropical forest in the Palakkad district of Kerala, India.
  • Leaders: The Kerala SastraSahityaParishad (KSSP) an NGO, and the poet activist Sughathakumari played an important role in the Silent Valley protests.
  • Aim: Inorder to protect the Silent Valley, the moist evergreen forest from being destroyed by a hydroelectric project.

Appiko Movement

  • 1983- Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts of Karnataka State
  • Leaders: Appiko’s greatest strengths lie in it being neither driven by a personality nor having been formally institutionalised. However, it does have a facilitator in PandurangHegde. He helped launch the movement in 1983.
  • Aim: Against the felling and commercialization of natural forest and the ruin of ancient livelihood.

Narmada BachaoAndholan

  • 1985- Narmada River, which flows through the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • Leaders: MedhaPatker, Baba Amte, adivasis, farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists.
  • Aim: A social movement against a number of large dams being built across the Narmada River.



  • Peasant movements or agrarian struggles have taken place from pre-colonial days.
  • Bengal revolt of 1859-62 against the indigo plantation system and the
  • Deccan riots’ of 1857 against moneylenders.
  • Bardoli Satyagraha (1928, Surat District) a ‘non-tax’ campaign as part of the nationwide noncooperative movement, a campaign of refusal to pay land revenue
  • Champaran Satyagraha (1917-18) directed against indigo plantations.
  • Moplah Rebellion in Malabar
  • Between 1920 and 1940peasant organisations arose.
  • The first organisation to be founded was the
    • Bihar Provincial KisanSabha (1929) and
    • All India KisanSabha -1936
  • It demanded freedom from economic exploitation for peasants, workers and all other exploited classes.
  • At the time of Independence we had the two most classical cases of peasant movements, namely the

o Tebhaga movement (1946-7)

  • A struggle of sharecroppers in Bengal in North Bihar for two thirds share of their produce instead of the customary half.
  • It had the support of the KisanSabha and the Communist Party of India (CPI).

o Telangana movement (1946-51).

  • Directed against the feudal conditions in the princely state of Hyderabad and was led by the CPI.

After 1947was characterised by two major social movements.

  • The Naxalite struggle
  • It was started from the region of Naxalbari (1967) in Bengal.

o ‘New farmer’s movements.’

  • It began in the 1970s in Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
  • These movements were regionally oganised, were non-party, and involved farmers rather than peasants.
  • The basic ideology of the movement was strongly anti-state and anti-urban.
  • The focus of demand were ‘price and related issues’
    • (for example price procurement, remunerative prices, prices for agricultural inputs, taxation, non-repayment of loans).
  • Novel methods of agitation were used: blocking of roads and railways, refusing politicians and bureaucrats entry to villages, and so on.


  • Factory production began in India in the early part of the 1860s.
    • These factories were, thus established in the port towns of Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai). Later factories were also set up in Madras (Chennai).
  • Tea plantations in Assam were established as early as 1839.
  • In September and October 1917 there were around 30 recorded strikes.
    • Jute workers in Calcutta struck work.
    • In Madras, the workers of Buchingham and Carnatic Mills (Binny’s) struck work for increased wages.
    • Textile workers in Ahmedabad struck work for increase in wages by 50 per cent.
  • The first trade union was established in April 1918 in Madras by B.P. Wadia, a social worker and member of the Theosophical Society.
  • Mahatma Gandhi founded the Textile Labour Association (TLA).
  • In 1920 the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was formed in Bombay.
    • It was a broad-based organisation involving diverse ideologies.
    • The main ideological groups were the communists led by S.A. Dange and M.N. Roy.
  • The Indian National Congress chose to form another union called Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in May 1947.
  • Apart from the working class movement being divided on the lines of political parties at the national level, regional parties too started to form their own unions from the late 1960s.



  • This is a struggle for recognition as fellow human beings.
  • It is a struggle for self-confidence and a space for self-determination.
  • It is a struggle for abolishment of stigmatisation, that untouchability implied.
  • It has been called a struggle to be touched.
  • The word Dalit is commonly used in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and many other Indian languages, meaning the poor and oppressed persons.
  • It was first used in Marathi by neo-Buddhist activists.

Major Dalit Movements

  • Satnami Movement of the Chamars in the Chattisgarh plains in eastern MP,
  • Adi Dharma Movement in Punjab,
  • Mahar Movement in Maharashtra, the socio-political mobilisation among the Jatavas of Agra
  • Anti Brahman Movement in south India.
  • Sociologists, attempts to classify Dalit movements have led them to believe that they belong to all the types, namely reformative, redemptive, revolutionary
    • Anti-caste movement under the inspiration of JotibaPhule
    • Non-Brahmin movements in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar had characteristics of all types.


  • The term ‘Backward Classes’ has been in use in different parts of the country since the late 19th Century.
  • It is true that in the early part of the 21st century, the variety of occupations and professions among all caste groups is much wider than it was today.
  • However, this does not change the massive social reality that the overwhelming majority of those in the ‘highest’ or most preferred occupations are from the upper castes, while the vast majority of those in the menial and despised occupations belong to the lowest castes.


  • Many of the tribal movements have been largely located in the so called ‘tribal belt’ in middle India, such as the

o Santhals, Hos, Oraons, Mundas in Chota Nagpur and the SanthalParganas.

Jharkhand movement–Jharkhand is a newly-formed states of India,

  • Jharkhand had a charismatic leader in BirsaMunda, an adivasi who led a major uprising against the British.
  • After his death, Birsa became an important icon of the movement.
  • A middle-class adivasi intellectual leadership emerged that formulated the demand for a separate state and lobbied for it in India and abroad.
  • Within south Bihar, adivasis shared a common hatred of dikusmigrant traders and money-lenders who had settled in the area and grabbed its wealth, impoverishing the original residents.
  • Adivasi experiences of marginalisation and their sense of injustice were mobilised to create a shared Jharkhandi identity and inspire collective action that eventually led to the formation of a separate state.

The north east movement:The key issues – the alienation of tribals from forest lands.


The 19th century social reform movements and earlywomen’s Organisations

  • The early 20th century saw the growth of women’s organisations at a national and local level.
    • The Women’s India Association (WIA) (1917)
    • All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) (1926),
    • National Council for Women in India (NCWI) (1925)
  • An issue that is often raised is that if there was an active women’s movement before 1947, whatever happened afterwards.
  • In the mid-1970s there was a renewal of the women’s movement in India. Some call it the second phase of the Indian women’s movement.
  • All women do not suffer the same level or kind of discrimination.
  • The concerns of the educated middle class woman is different from the peasant woman just as the concern of the Dalit woman is different from the ‘upper caste’ woman.

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