In the typical sociological perspective, social movements are collective efforts to bring about social or political change. Characteristics of a social movement include it being goal-oriented, having a unified ideology, and having an organized, sometimes bureaucratic, system. Social movements can be characterized by the type of change they promote. There are six major types of social movements: expressive social movements, progressive social movements, resistant social movements, reformative social movements, revolutionary social movements, and utopian social movements.
Expressive social movements attempt to change individuals, rather then directly trying to change institutions or laws. Evangelical groups and Alcoholic Anonymous groups offer examples. Members of such movements believe that because institutions are people-created, they can only be changed by changes in people. Progressive social movements attempt to improve society by making positive changes in institutions and organizations. The Labor Movement and Civil Rights Movement exemplify progressive social movements.
Resistance movements, rather than advocating change, seek to hold it back and keep the status quo. For instance, an example of this type of movement is the anti-gun control movement. Reformative social movements attempt to make a major change to some aspect of society or politics in general. For instance, efforts to end the death penalty, or efforts to apply gun control in a society are considered reformative social movements. Revolutionary social movements advocate a radical shift in the fundamental structure or practice of a society.
Such types of social movements tend to involve violence. Almost all revolutionary social movements arise when a specific segment of the population is strongly oppressed or generally dissatisfied with the society they inhabit. Examples of revolutionary social movements include the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Bolshevik Revolution. The last type of social movement is the utopian social movement. Such movements seek to create an ideal social environment from an image of a perfect society. They tend to reject violence as a method to gain its goal.
Examples of such revolutions include Gandhi’s Peaceful Revolution and the counterculture movement in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. First and foremost, the Egyptian Revolution, according to its name, can obviously be categorized under a revolutionary social movement. During the 18-day uprising, people, people assembled in the now distinguished, Tahrir Square, for a simple, yet drastic agenda. They called for the resignation of the President as well as his staff, substantial amendments to the constitution, and a promise for a democratic nation that grants its people their human rights.
The protestors remained devoted to their aims until they eventually had them fulfilled. The fact the protestors’ agenda was realized makes the January 25th incident a revolution and not a revolt. Furthermore, unlike in reformative social movements, participants of the Egyptian Revolution called for drastic change in the ruling system. Reformative social movements tend attempt to gain rights and protection for some segment of society without changing other aspects. The Egyptian Revolution brought forth a change to the whole system.
Furthermore, among the participants of the Egyptian Revolution, there were undoubtedly protestors that exemplified the symptoms of a utopian social movement. Evidently, many of the protestors zestfully chanted “Selmeya! Selmeya! ” (Arabic roughly meaning, “Remain peaceful! ”). Despite the eventual violence and chaos that emerged in streets all around Egypt, there is sufficient evidence to prove that many protestors did in fact call for non-violent demonstration. After the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, symptoms of other social movements began appearing.
For instance, having had their nationalist spirit replenished, many citizens took part in expressive social movements to better themselves and abide more strictly to their moral codes. Such campaigns can easily be observed by watching the television, as there have been many advertisements urging Egyptians to take better care of their nation. Additionally, progressive movements sporadically appeared after the resignation of the 83 year-old President. After the ouster of the President, minority groups in the population, such as the Copts, began calling for better treatment by the government.
Also, groups that were previously subjugated by the government, specifically Islamist groups, began appealing for the Islamic amendments they asked for before. Such groups eventually came up with more stringent demands, that their progressive movements became reformative movements. For instance, the Copts who protested at the State’s ‘Maspiro’ building initially called for better conduct towards Coptic Christians in Egypt, however they eventually began calling for the change in the article of the constitution that states that Egyptian law is mostly derived from Islamic ‘Sharia’a’ Law.
Ultimately, it is without a shadow of a doubt that the Egyptian January 25th revolution brought about the trend of desiring change. Hence, Egypt is commonly seeing all sorts of social movements nowadays. Having said that, although the change-urging groups in Egypt all claim to have the good of the country as their top priority, it must be acknowledged that a large number of these groups of conflicting ideologies. On top of that, many participants of these social movements derive their ideologies from religion, and thus this makes the matter delicate.
Throughout the past few months, Egypt has seen a number of incidents involving sectarian strife. Such incidents gave a warning signal to what this revolution may very well lead to. The question to ask now is will Egypt remain “2eed wahda” (Arabic for “one hand”) as they fervently chanted during the 18-day uprising, or will contradictions in ideologies and demands for change lead to a theological strife within Egypt.