Introduction to Social Movements

What you’ll learn to do: explain types, stages, and theories of social movements

Elbert Howard in front of a Black Panther sign giving a lecture in Amsterdam.
Figure 1. Elbert Howard, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, lecturing in Amsterdam. The Black Panther Party was part of the greater Black Power movement, which advocated for Black pride, empowerment, and equality. The group was founded in the Bay Area of California in 1966, and reached its peak influence later in the decade.

How do you distinguish one social movement from the other? How do social movements evolve and create substantial change in society? This section will help you distinguish between four types of social movements according to their collective goals. You’ll also learn about the life cycle of a social movement—how they get started, gain momentum, and decline. 

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