Complete Social Movements Notes For UPSC EPFO EO | Read Here

When it comes to the preparation of UPSC EPFO EO 2020, there is a wide range of topics that needs to be covered. The Syllabus for UPSC EPFO Enforcement Officer 2020 is wide. To help you cover one of the topics from such a wide syllabus we have brought you a blog on Social Movement Notes For UPSC EPFO EO Exam 2020.

In this blog, we will be providing you the study notes on Social Movements which is important for UPSC EPFO EO Exam 2020.  Before moving forward take a free mock test here to test the level of your preparation and get an idea of the questions being asked.

1. Social Movements Notes For UPSC EPFO EO

1.1 Introduction

We often assume that the rights we enjoy just happened to exist. It is important to recall the struggles of the past, which made these rights possible. You have read about the 19th-century social reform movements, of the struggles against caste and gender discrimination and of the nationalist movement in India that brought us independence from colonial rule in 1947.

You are familiar also with the many nationalist movements around the world in Asia and Africa and the Americas that put an end to colonial rule. The socialist movements world over, the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s that fought for equal rights for Blacks, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa have all changed the world in fundamental ways. Social movements not only change societies. They also inspire other social movements.

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1.2 Features of a Social Movement

People may damage a bus and attack its driver when the bus has run over a child. This is an isolated incident of protest. Since it flares up and dies down it is not a social movement. A social movement requires sustained collective action over time. Such action is often directed against the state and takes the form of demanding changes in state policy or practice.

Spontaneous, disorganised protest cannot be called a social movement either. Collective action must be marked by some degree of organisation. This organisation may include leadership and a structure that defines how members relate to each other, make decisions, and carry them out.

Those participating in a social movement also have shared objectives and ideologies. A social movement has a general orientation or way of approaching to bring about (or to prevent) change. These defining features are not constant. They may change over the course of a social movement’s life.

Social movements often arise with the aim of bringing about changes on a public issue, such as ensuring the right of the tribal population to use the forests or the right of displaced people to settlement and compensation. Think
of other issues that social movements have taken up in the past and present.

While social movements seek to bring in social change, counter-movements sometimes arise in defence of the status quo. There are many instances of such counter-movements. When Raja Rammohun Roy campaigned against sati and formed the Brahmo Samaj, defenders of sati formed Dharma Sabha and petitioned the British not to legislate against sati.

When reformers demanded education for girls, many protested that this would be disastrous for society. When reformers campaigned for widow remarriage, they were socially boycotted. When the so-called ‘lower caste’ children enrolled in schools, some so-called ‘upper caste’ children were withdrawn from the schools by their

Peasant movements have often been brutally suppressed. More recently the social movements of erstwhile excluded groups like the Dalits have often invoked retaliatory action. Likewise proposals for extending reservations in educational institutions have led to counter-movements opposing them. Social movements cannot change society easily. Since it goes against both entrenched interests and values, there is bound to be opposition and resistance. But over a period of time changes do take place.

While the protest is the most visible form of collective action, a social movement also acts in other, equally important, ways. Social movement activists hold meetings to mobilise people around the issues that concern them. Such activities help shared understanding and also prepare for a feeling of agreement or consensus about how to pursue the collective agenda.

Social movements also chart out campaigns that include lobbying with the government, media, and other important makers of public opinion. Social movements also develop distinct modes of protest. This could be candle and torchlight processions, use of black cloth, street theatres, songs, poetry. Gandhi adopted novel ways such as ahimsa, satyagraha, and his use of the charkha in the freedom movement. Recall the innovative modes of protest such as picketing and the defying of the colonial ban on producing salt.

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1.3 Social Change Vs Social Movements

It is important to distinguish between a social change in general and 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. Social movements are directed towards some specific goals. It involves long and continuous social effort and action by people. To draw from our discussion in chapter 2 we can view Sanskritisation and westernisation as social change and see the 19th-century social reformers’ efforts to change society as social movements.

1.4 Theories of Social Movements

According to the theory of relative deprivation, social conflict arises when a social group feels that it is worse off than others around it. Such conflict is likely to result in a successful collective protest. This theory emphasises the role of psychological factors such as resentment and rage in inciting social movements. 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 Action argues 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-maximizing individual.

McCarthy and Zald’s proposed resource mobilisation theory 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. Even with initially limited material resources and organisational base, a movement can generate resources through the process of struggle.

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1.5 Types of Social Movements

There are different kinds of social movements. They can be classified as:

(i) redemptive or transformatory
(ii) reformist and
(iii) revolutionary

Redemptive or transformatory: A redemptive social movement 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 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 attempt to radically transform social relations, often by capturing state power. The Bolshevik revolution in Russia that deposed the Tsar to create a communist state and the Naxalite movement in India that seeks to remove oppressive landlords and state officials can be described as revolutionary movements.

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Another Way of Classifying: Old and New

Old Movement New Movement
Most have links with political parties and they were very important. eg:freedom struggle -> INC Do not have links to political parties. May sometimes oppose the practices of government. e.g workers’ movement.
Main aim -> saw the reorganisation of power relationships. Main aim-> address social issues, no change in power relationships.
Usually to do with economic inequality. It involves economic, social, political, and cultural inequality.
Usually concerned with the lower or depressed class like women and Dalits e.g Arya Samaj To do with all classes and all castes e.g workers movement, Tribal movement.

Ecological Movements

For much of the modern period the greatest emphasis has been laid on development. Over the decades there has been a great deal of concern about the unchecked use of natural resources and a model of development that creates new needs that further demands greater exploitation of the already depleted natural resources. This model of development has also been critiqued for assuming that all sections of people will be beneficiaries of development. Thus big dams displace people from their homes and sources of livelihood. Industries displace agriculturalists from their homes and livelihood. The impact of industrial pollution is yet another story.

The Chipko movement, an example of the ecological movement, in the Himalayan foothills is a good example of such
intermingled interests and ideologies.

Class-Based Movements

Peasant Movements

Peasant movements or agrarian struggles have taken place from pre-colonial days. The movements in the period between 1858 and 1914 tended to remain localised, disjointed, and confined to particular grievances. Well-known are the Bengal revolt of 1859-62 against the indigo plantation system and the ‘Deccan riots’ of 1857 against moneylenders. Some of these issues continued into the following period, and under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi became partially linked to the Independence movement.

Some of these issues continued into the following period, and under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi became partially linked to the Independence movement. For instance, the Bardoli Satyagraha (1928, Surat District) a ‘non-tax’ campaign as part of the nationwide noncooperative movement, a campaign of refusal to pay land revenue and the Champaran Satyagraha (1917-18) directed against indigo plantations. In the 1920s, protest movements against the forest policies of the British government and local rulers arose in certain regions.

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Worker’s Movements

Factory production began in India in the early part of the 1860s. You will recall our discussion on the specific character of industrialisation in the colonial period. The general pattern of trade set up by the colonial regime was one under which raw materials were procured from India and goods manufactured in the United Kingdom were marketed in the colony. 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 the early stages of colonialism, labour was very cheap as the colonial government did not regulate either wages or working conditions. Though trade unions emerged later, workers did protest. Their actions then were, however, more spontaneous than sustained. Some of the nationalist leaders also drew in the workers into the anti-colonial movement. The war led to the expansion of industries in the country but it also brought a great deal of misery to the poor. There were a food shortage and a sharp increase in prices. There were waves of strikes in the textile mills in Bombay.

The first trade union was established in April 1918 in Madras by B.P. Wadia, a social worker and member of the Theosophical Society. During the same year, Mahatma Gandhi founded the Textile Labour Association (TLA). In 1920 the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was formed in Bombay. The AITUC 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 moderates led by M. Joshi and V.V. Giri and the nationalists which involved people like Lala Lajpat Rai and Jawaharlal Nehru.

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Caste Based Movements

Dalit Movement

  • They are different from other movements as they were fighting for self-respect and dignity.
  • They wanted to be touched. It was not only Dalits fighting but also some Brahmins and Gandhiji.
  • It was a struggle against discrimination. The concept of untouchability was to be abolished.
  • Dalit movement took place all over India and each Dalit movement had a different issue/agenda (wages/ employment) but they all fought for dignity and self-respect.
  • Not only started by Dalits but other castes also (Sri Narayan Guru).
  • Satnami Movement – Chhattisgarh
  • Mahar Movement – Maharashtra
  •  Adi Dharma Movement – Punjab
  • Anti Brahman Movement – Punjab
  • Dalit Panther Movement.
  • Dalit movement could be ignored in the past but not now due to media.
  • Dalit literature became popular because it was poems, drams, songs, stories about their lives and sufferings, etc.
  • This led to the change in the mindset of people and emphasized the fighting for self-dignity by Dalits and to bring about change in all aspects of life.
  • Reservations are a result of the Dalit movement.

Other Backward Class Movement

  • The term ‘Backward Classes’ has been in use in different parts of the country since the late 19th Century.
  • It began to be used more widely in Madras presidency since 1872, in the princely state of Mysore since 1918, and in Bombay presidency since 1925.
  • From the 1920s, a number of organizations united around the issue of caste sprang up in different parts of the country.
  • These included the United Provinces Hindu Backward Classes League, All-India Backward Classes Federation, All India Backward Classes League. In 1954, 88 organizations were counted working for the Backward Classes.

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