Protest Movements – An Overview, History and their Impacts

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A protest is an objection or complaint against a government policy, any act, or idea. The people gather to voice their opinion by showing disapproval of that idea.

Protest Movements

Introduction of Protests: A protest is a collective action by the people however any form of collective action cannot be labeled as a protest even if it is directed toward changing the existing social value it should be sustained and not sporadic.

How do protests take birth? 

An element of dissatisfaction with the existing system can be found in every 

Society. Dissatisfaction may be caused by poverty, social discrimination, exploitation, or lack of privilege. 

A group of people who want to change the situation by making their voices heard against policies or acts. Then they start questioning the pre-established practices of society. This will lead to differences of opinion which leads to a desire for change in society.

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Protests emerge in this situation. However, a movement does not occur suddenly. It begins with dissents, moves towards protests and agitation, and finally takes the form of a social movement. 

This sequence which is like dissent, protest, agitation, and social movements represents different phases of social change. 

Three functions of Protests:

  • Mediation: it helps to relate the individual to the larger society. In this, every person gets a chance to participate and to express their ideas, which makes a base for change in society.
  •  pressure: protests stimulate the formation of organized groups that work systematically to see that their plans and policies are implemented.
  •  clarification of collective consciousness: protests generate and develop ideas that spread throughout society. This leads to the awakening of group consciousness.

Conditions for the origin of protests

  • Protest represents an effort by many people to collectively solve a problem or problems.
  • The people must understand the problem.
  • The problem must be observable.
  •  problems must be objective and have logic.
  •  the people should be conscious of their problems and be clear and aware of their objectives. 
  • Problems are not made by people out of the box.

What goes beyond protesting?

Earlier societies used to exchange ideas through symbols and actions, but with the evolution of man exchange of ideas became written-verbal. Now technology provides greater accessibility and fast delivery of ideas and information.

The internet provides a platform for people to mobilize and start social movements. For example, farmers protest in India getting support from other nations. Me Too movement spreading across the globe to mobilize people against sexual harassment of women via the internet.

The protests are within a pressure group that highlights the interest of a particular section e.g. In farmer protests, peasants are alienated, or women are alienated.

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Examples of Protests

  • Indian Farmers Protest (2020-2021)
  • George Floyd and black lives matter (2020)
  • Women’s march (2017)
  • Anti-Iraq war protests (2003)
  • Tiananmen square (1989)
  • The Baltic Way (1989)
  • People’s Protest (1986)
  • Earth Day (1970)
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