10 Facts About Social Change
Social change is an instance in which people reform the conventions of society. The behavior and attitudes of people determine the direction and significance of change, while the environment or society influence these behaviors. Here are 10 facts about social change.

10 Facts About Social Change

  1. Modernization and Technology: Social change is a combination of many factors. Different events, technologies or people can affect the behavior or norms within society. Modernization and technology have been two of the largest driving forces of social change throughout history. The Industrial Revolution in many countries forced governments to become more liberal as their citizenry became more valuable and leveraged for more rights at work.
  2. Social Order and Coordination: Social norms are central in social order or social coordination. Social norms are informal laws that dictate a group’s or society’s behaviors. A social norm can range from wearing a suit to work or holding the door for someone behind you to voting in the presidential election. Social change does not occur without a significant number of people coming together and changing the traditional behavior within a society.
  3. Social Justice: Social change often looks to change social norms that negatively affect social justice. Social justice is the idea that every aspect of society can achieve justice and equity rather than in only certain cases or for some individuals.
  4. Causes of Social Change: There are different types of social changes. Since social changes are whenever a group changes social behavior and consciousness, many factors can cause such an outcome. War, protests, strikes and nonviolent demonstrations are all ways social change comes about.
  5. Negative Social Change: Social change is not always a positive form of change. An extreme example is the Nazi regime and its persecution of the Jewish population that occurred because of a change to Germany’s social norms. It is up to people to choose which form of change is worth pursuing.
  6. Length of Time to Instigate Social Change: Often change takes place over many generations. The breaking down of social norms requires time to turn new ideas from fringe to conventional. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi are prominent social figures. These men exemplify the multiple generation struggle, as all of them inherited a society in need of change and utilized the time to achieve social justice.
  7. Importance of Nonprofits: Nonprofits are vital in social change. Nonprofits are often the driver of awareness, bringing solutions to communities affected by a lack of progress. Groups like Oxfam International strive to uplift the poverty-stricken and decrease poverty around the world. By working in more than 90 countries, the organization has affected millions of people. The group looks to provide clean water and food to those without such necessities and diminish the effects of climate change in developing countries. In many of its efforts, it also looks to increase the economic well-being of developing countries to ensure their citizens are provided with enough resources to live and flourish.
  8. Theories About Social Change: Sociologists and anthropologists have studied social change and social norms extensively. These significant studies have led to many different theories of the causes and reasons for social change. Many see Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber as the most influential sociological thinkers, each offering differing theories on the progression of society. All three focused on the division of labor and how that affected social progress. Durkheim argued that with an increase in population, there is more competition for resources. To obtain social harmony as opposed to constant competition, people will look to specialize their skills and find new ways to make a living. Marx also analyzed the division of labor and the effect of work on people and society. Marx, however, believed that people often look to meet their human needs, and are in a constant struggle with the market or their owners of production to obtain financial security to live. Marx believed that life was a constant struggle between classes and that social change emerges from this struggle. While Marx believed that class solidarity would lead to social change, Weber believed that society required a charismatic leader to spark such change. Weber emphasized a transition to rational thought, and because rationality usually comes with collaboration, Weber believed bureaucracy would be essential to change.
  9. Difficulty to Instigate Social Change: Traditions are often difficult to change and violence is a common response to social movements. People in power often do not want to relinquish their power and the traditional system often provides the parameters and rules for those people to rise to that position. As a result, they see a change to the system as a threat to their status. What started as peaceful protests against an extradition bill has turned into months of clashes between protestors in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy activists began protesting in March 2019 against a bill that would extradite citizens of Hong Kong to Beijing. Activists saw this bill as an encroachment on their autonomy and held demonstrations to voice their opposition. After multiple peaceful demonstrations, police responded with force against protestors, and this use of force caused protestors to increase the intensity of their protests. Since the beginning of these protests, there have been constant clashes between protestors and police, including batons, rubber bullets, tear gas and even the shooting of multiple protestors with live rounds. Protestors have attacked businesses and police. Awareness and pressure are powerful deterrents to violence on both sides.
  10. Nonprofits for Peaceful Change: There are groups all around the world working for peaceful change. The Borgen Project is just one among many groups that look to uplift the impoverished and oppressed peoples of the world. Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote public health around the world. Bill and his wife Melinda look to provide millions around the world with resources and education to live healthily. The Foundation strives to reduce inequities in healthy by providing resources and education to countries with insufficient health care programs.

These 10 facts about social change show that change is constant within society and that with the level of technological advancement, the rate of societal change will only increase. With so many groups working for social justice and their ability to reach more people with their message, the time is right for societies around the world to become more inclusive. Inspired by social justice figures of the past, there has been an emphasis recently on the peaceful pursuit of social change. The number of groups striving for social justice around the world encourages people to live without conflict, without injustice or prejudice and to receive the necessary resources to live a healthy, fulfilling life. With technology as a spark for social change and the technological advances of today, there is the possibility of creating a world where uplifting those in need, even in different countries, is the norm.

– Jared Hynes
Photo: Flickr

Nelson Mandela Quotes on Love

As the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela put persistent effort in dismantling the apartheid that divided the nation for 46 years. His peaceful protests against the racist legislation of the South African government exemplified legendary courage and leadership. These Nelson Mandela quotes on love reflect that through social activism and philanthropy, a passion for the betterment of humankind can change the world.

Nelson Mandela continuously inspires liberation movements across the world. His prison sentence of 27 years for the political offense of organizing and supporting the anti-apartheid movement lives on as a principle of a true hero. After being released from prison, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then in 1994, he became the nation’s first democratically elected President. Inspiration for any oppressed group of people can be found in Mandela’s quotes about love for others and love of justice.

Ten Nelson Mandela Quotes on Love

  1. “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
  2. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
  3. “You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”
  4. “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
  5. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
  6. “As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.”
  7. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
  8. “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
  9. “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”
  10. “Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

These Nelson Mandela quotes on love depict the ways in which he witnessed the world, and sought to change it. With love for oneself, others and one’s country, anything is possible.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Captain Planet
Age is never a barrier in the fight for social justice. At least, Captain Planet teaches this lesson. During the animated series’ six-year span, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” sought to educate and empower young people to take an interest in environmental issues.

Origin

Media mongrel, Ted Turner, conceived of the idea for Captain Planet. To bring this superhero to life, Turner sought the help of longtime environmentalist and film producer, Barbara Pyle. Inspired by people she met during past projects, Pyle created the Planeteers: Kwame, Gi, Linka, Wheeler and Ma-Ti. Together, the Planeteers and Captain Planet work to combat ecological and global problems.

“Captain Planet and the Planeteers” premiered worldwide in 1990 and the children’s animated series gained popular success as well as critical acclaim. Captain Planet was one of the first television shows to openly advocate for the environment. Apart from addressing environmental issues, the television show also encouraged young people to have an interest in the issues plaguing their own communities. Here are two examples of how Captain Planet challenged its audience to be advocates for nonenvironmental social justice issues.

Issue #1: HIV/AIDS Epidemic

In the early 1990s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic devastated the United States. The number of reported cases was over 100,000 and it affected everyone in sight. Ryan White was one of the first children diagnosed with the deadly virus. Doctors diagnosed White with AIDS when he was 13 years old after he received a blood transfusion. After this diagnosis, White’s school banned him and his community ostracized him, similar to other individuals. People were afraid of White due to the misperception that AIDS could transmit by air or touch.

During the middle of the epidemic, Captain Planet addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS in its episode, “A Formula for Hate.” The episode challenged the audience to put aside ignorance and fear to reduce discrimination against people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The plot of the episode parallels White’s situation after his diagnosis with AIDS. In the episode, the townspeople learn about a student’s (Todd Andrews) HIV-positive diagnosis. The townspeople turn against Andrews and his family, going as far as burning his mother’s vegetable stand. Captain Planet and the Planeteers intervene by educating the townspeople on the virus, dispelling the misperception that HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact. As a result, Andrews and his family were once again accepted by the townspeople and no longer discriminated against.

Issue #2: Gang Violence

Gangs and firearm violence were on the rise in the United States during the 1990s, especially among young people. In 1990, the number of fatal and nonfatal violent crimes with a firearm was at an all-time high at 18,253. In 1993, 45 cities reported that over 100,000 young people were involved in a gang. The rise in violent crimes created toxic environments among youth and places considered safe zones for young people, like parks and schools, became battlegrounds.

In 1994, Captain Planet addressed the issue of gang and gun violence in the episode, “Teers in the ‘Hood.” The episode’s plot revolved around a shootout between two rival gangs and The Planeteers became caught in the middle of the conflict. Captain Planet and the Planeteers defused the situation by talking about the peace messages of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi. The episode also debunked the myth that gangs offer positive communities for its members. After two of the Planeteers infiltrated one of the rival gangs, the gang quickly pressured them to use violence in order to gain acceptance. In short, the episode’s message was on the power of positive community and peace.

Today, Captain Planet continues providing fun, innovative opportunities to support environmental issues worldwide. To get involved or learn more, visit www.captain planet foundation.org.

– Paola Nunez
Photo: Flickr

social justice and economic justice
There is an enduring and powerful relationship between social justice and economic justice. Social justice has many definitions. 
The most common definition, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is: “Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.”

The definitions that are most applicable to alleviating poverty, however, are:

  • The idea that every person should have equal rights to basic liberties and needs, and inequalities should be arranged to the greatest benefit for those considered lowest in society.
  • From the Huffington Post: “…promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. It exists when all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights and a fair allocation of community resources.”

However, the current functioning of global society violates each of these definitions almost completely, and therefore expresses the lack of and need for social justice in all areas of the world, especially developing nations.

The United Nations Development Programme reports shocking statistics from poverty elimination research, detailing that as of 2000, there were 323 million people living on less than $1 a day, 185 million people who were undernourished and 273 million people without access to improved water sources in sub-Saharan Africa, the most impoverished region overall.

These harrowing numbers from sub-Saharan Africa were accompanied by information stating that 44 million primary age children were not in school, 23 million primary age girls were not in school, five million children under five years old were dying each year and 299 million people were without access to adequate sanitation. These statistics demonstrate that simple economic failure and injustice is not an isolated issue, but rather closely parallelled by social failure and injustice as well.

In contrast, the statistics from central and eastern Europe are staggeringly different. Only 21 million people were living on less than on $1 a day, only 33 million people were undernourished, only 29 million people were without access to improved water sources, only three million primary age children were not in school, only one million primary age girls were not in school, less than a million children under five years old were dying each year and an insignificant amount of people were without access to adequate sanitation as of 2000, so low that it was not even reported numerically.

As can be clearly seen, there is a direct correlation between social justice and economic justice, and a very large gap between developed nations and impoverished countries. The more economically impoverished a nation remains, the more social injustice thrives and prevails. The greater the poverty, the fewer people are given fair and equal access to basic needs and rights.  

To start fighting such global, national and statistical chasms and deprivations, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals have started targeting social justice, specifically to help achieve the goals of:

  • Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
  • Promoting gender equality and empowering women
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability

The hope is that the new information and educational awareness of the relationship between social justice and economic justice will kickstart the alleviation of poverty by focusing on the social injustices in each region and developing country to foster a new approach for decreasing poverty overall.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

How to Fight for Social JusticeAn important thing to keep in mind when learning how to fight for social justice is what social justice really is. Fighting for social justice is a way of solving social inequalities. Social inequalities can come in different forms, but they revolve around two major categories: inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation.

Inter-social treatment describes the treatment of groups of people on a local and regional scale and deals with issues such as racism, sexism, ageism and heterosexism. These social inequalities are commonly based on personal beliefs.

Unequal government regulation describes the laws and regulations in place which discriminate against minorities. These often relate to poverty, the death penalty, civil rights and access to healthcare and education.

Health, education, social mobility, crime, and wellbeing are directly correlated to social inequalities due to inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation. It is important to remember that these two categories of inequality are often linked to each other. These social inequalities can be experienced directly and indirectly, and it is important to keep that in mind when learning how to fight for social justice.

Direct social inequality is the deliberate mistreatment of minorities or groups of people. This can come in the form of actions that take away resources and opportunities from select groups of people based on prejudices and personal beliefs. This type of inequality can include, but is not limited to, physical and/or verbal assault on a person or group of people and laws created based on established prejudices.

Indirect social inequality is enforcing unfair treatment of people unintentionally. Many people are guilty of this form of oppression because they are simply unaware of it. Consumerism is a large factor in this form of social inequality, because often the products being purchased are made by sweatshop workers, produce waste and chemicals which pollute the areas where impoverished people live and even support political candidates who promote social inequalities.

Taking action on a social issue is a major step in learning how to fight for social justice. Activism, by definition, is using consistent campaigning to bring social and/or political change. With the technology available today, even the busiest of people can become activists for social issues through a variety of means:

  • Using social media
    One of the easiest ways to fight for social justice is to use a social media platform. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all great starting points to grow an active voice for social justice. In today’s age of technology, something as small as a hashtag can be the start of a worldwide social justice movement, such as the “Black Lives Matter”, “Love Wins” and the “Me Too” movements.
  • Donating
    Organizations are always in need of donations to their cause because to fight for social justice, organizations need funding. For some, it is not always practical to donate money, so an alternative is to consider donating your time. Holding fundraisers, hosting rallies and participating in sponsored walks are all great ways to fight for social justice through activism.
  • Contacting Congress
    A critical part of fighting for social justice is starting from the ground up in local government. Big movements take small steps towards greatness, and one way to help move forward for social justice is making a change in government. Contacting Congress about issues and concerns is a pivotal part of creating change. Voting in leadership who support important causes is another important step in fighting for social justice.
  • Joining local groups
    Connecting with local activist groups can help you stay up to date on events, fundraisers, news and information on social issues.

Whether we are fighting against global poverty, racism, sexism, ageism or the many other social issues that face us, the answer to “how to fight for social justice” is understanding what social justice is, finding a voice and using it through activism.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Lessons from Anonymous: Using Social Media to Help End PovertyIn 2010, the Internet activist group known as Anonymous lent its technological expertise to Arabs who were protesting injustices in the countries they lived in. This aid let to an event known as the Arab Spring, in which the governments of several Arab nations were overthrown by their people. The ways that Anonymous utilized technology to help protesters are important lessons for activists trying to enact global change on both how not to use technology to enact global change and how to properly use social media to help people who live in poverty or under a repressive regime find their voice.

How should technology not be used by the modern activist?

Even though Arab people were aided by the help from Anonymous, Anonymous employed several methods which modern protesters should not use, because they rely on destroying the computational infrastructure used by a country and would risk generating bad publicity if they were used. One such example, known as black faxing, is a method in which Anonymous faxed black pieces of paper to various government agencies to cause the fax machines used by those agencies to run out of ink.

Anonymous also committed distributed denial of service attacks, in which members of Anonymous overloaded key web servers in a given country to prevent government officials from accessing network resources on the Internet. Anonymous carried out these disruptive activities so that members of the government would not be able to communicate, which made it much easier for the protesters to overthrow the government.

These methods should not be used by modern activists because they are more likely to be viewed as an act of cyberterrorism and not as a legitimate form of protest. Such methods would cause people to focus on the methods used by the protesters rather than the societal issues that the people using these methods were protesting.

What positive lessons can the modern activist or protester learn from Anonymous?

In addition to the use of technology for disruption, Anonymous also used technology to help the Arab protesters mobilize within their country and communicate with the outside world. The main tools used by Anonymous to connect the protesters with each other and with the outside world were social media platforms. Anonymous also helped protesters use proxy servers so that they could communicate with the outside world without the risk of being detected by their government. Anonymous used social media to help ensure that the voices of the protesters were heard by the world.

Anonymous used social media to help support the Arab Spring

Anonymous helped protesters in Egypt by reposting information that people in Egypt gave to them on Twitter, and by helping people in Egypt bypass firewalls set up by the Egyptian government. Anonymous also helped protesters in the Arab world by setting up IRC servers where protesters could virtually meet to organize and to plan their protests. Anonymous teamed up with Telecomix, another “hacktivist” group, to help people in Arab countries who were protesting their government connect to the Internet even after the government blocked Internet access.

People protesting against poverty, child soldiers, human trafficking or any other issue could learn from Anonymous and use social media to help people who are affected by such issues communicate with others or to help activists fighting against such injustices safely communicate with each other.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

social responsibility marketing

Consumers in 2018 have no problem accessing information. In a time where finding a company’s track record is a mouse-click away, reputation is key. A scandal gone viral can be the only thing needed to affect an otherwise strong company.

In 2017, United Airlines experienced this firsthand. A video showing officials dragging a passenger off a flight lead to uproar across the world. Many wanted a complete boycott of the airline, a frequent result of company scandals.

Most companies are not handling a major PR crisis like United’s. But that does not mean that positive brand image is any less critical to success. Millennial consumers have steadily-increasing purchasing power in the global economy, providing a unique challenge. To appeal to millennial consumers, companies must recognize value differences from previous generations.

Prioritizing social responsibility marketing (SRM) is one of these differences. This strategy focuses on customers wanting to make a difference through their purchases. Social responsibility marketing takes many forms. Sustainable packaging, volunteer-focused ad campaigns and product donations are all possible SRM strategies.

A majority of millennial consumers look for social responsibility marketing when purchasing. This age demographic expects companies to be upfront with social responsibility, spending more on ethical, helpful products. But the shift toward social responsibility is more than an opportunity for a company. For the millions that struggle with food and water insecurity globally, SRM is good news.

Here are the top four ways that social responsibility marketing helps fight poverty.

  1. By Providing Food
    With consumers pushing for social responsibility, ground campaigns are a frequent response. The intention of these programs is to provide aid, such as food and water, directly to those in need. Notable companies have launched major campaigns that do exactly that.
    Kraft Heinz Company set a goal to provide one billion meals by the year 2021. By doing so, Kraft Heinz Company has shown a company priority for social responsibility. Given the impact on global poverty of so many donated meals, the situation is a true win-win.
  1. By Empowering Women
    A branding focus toward social responsibility marketing can provide unique benefits to women. Consumers have pushed companies toward sourcing their products in a socially-responsible way. With increased attention on sourcing, programs to hire women and offer products made by women in developing nations have emerged.
    Coca-Cola launched an initiative to hire five million women by 2020. In the age of social responsibility marketing, this is hardly out of the ordinary for a company to do.
  1. By Helping at the Corporate Level
    Besides helping those in need, SRM helps companies be successful. A company that is socially-responsible can use social responsibility to connect with consumers. By helping improve global conditions, a company creates positive brand associations. These positive brand associations are critical to customer loyalty. With people placing high importance on social responsibility, that loyalty is essential.
  1. By Preserving the Environment
    Changing consumer preferences push companies toward behaviors that help the environment. In practice of implementing an SRM strategy, making products has changed. Processes have become better for the environment and produce fewer pollutants.
    Beyond socially-conscious production materials, basic operations have become better for the environment too. A focus on minimizing waste and maximizing resources has emerged. Recycling and conservation have become standards, not perks. For the environment, this push is long overdue.

On the whole, social responsibility marketing has changed the way companies do business. Consumers continue to demand better practices from companies, and companies are listening.

– Robert Stephen

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Social Enterprise
Traditional businesses measure their success by profit and how much they can bring shareholders. Social enterprises have multiple bottoms lines: profit, people and planet. Profit is important in sustaining a business, but the idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is gaining in popularity. Consumers educate themselves on products which leads businesses into action. Focusing on multiple areas of business (triple bottom line) is the crucially important reason why social enterprise works.

 

 

The Traditional Standard: Profit

Profit is an excellent measure of growth and is quantifiable. A business that has a surplus by the end of the year means bills were paid and employees provided for. It doesn’t hurt that investors or shareholders see a return on their money. If there is profit, that means the company is an asset to the economy; this then means more customers, more employees and more investors overall. This business detail remains a critical factor in why social enterprise works.

 

The Growing Standard: People

People want to be happy, and as most of a person’s waking hours are spent at work, these two aspects of life are thereby deeply intertwined. It’s becoming common knowledge that a happier employee means a more productive workplace. An employee who feels empowered and enjoys what they do generally equates to higher productivity and profitability.

Success with people can lead to 65 percent in higher share prices and 100 percent more job applications for the company.

 

The Growing Concern: Planet

Consumer understanding of the planet’s dwindling resources are slowly impacting their buying habits. There hasn’t been a huge move towards green living, but some like social enterprises make this a priority along with profit and people. A new awareness day, Overshoot Day, marks the calendar for when humanity has used up Earth’s resources for that year.

From 2000 to 2017, Overshoot Day crept up from late September to early August, almost by two months. Social enterprises have noticed this trend and are now making moves to change it through sustainable resources.

 

A Moral Solution: Changing the Trajectory for an At-Risk Individual

Many businesses might choose a social entrepreneurial path because there is an issue the organization wants to address. At the heart of freedom businesses (a subgroup of social enterprises) is the goal to hire at-risk individuals. Some businesses like Purnaa, a manufacturing business in Nepal, were inspired to create opportunities for marginalized people and survivors of exploitation. Others like Papillion Enterprise, an Artisan shop in Haiti, wanted to prevent orphans through job creation.

 

Using Resources to Continue the Process

A difficult move for many small social enterprises is growth, particularly in some countries outside of the U.S. There might not be property to mortgage against or the interest rate would kill the purpose. Some social enterprises — like Kairos Trader — use profits and fundraising to provide 0 percent loans to social enterprises. As business grows and money is repaid, the loan can then be cycled into another loan to help social enterprises start or step up.

 

Economic Growth: The Ripple Effect

This list would not be complete without mentioning social enterprises’ impact on economic growth– freedom businesses’ commitment to marginalised people and the Earth is why much of its social enterprise works.

Communities that may have been jobless or ostracised now have opportunities. Those with jobs are able to educate their children and become consumers which grows consumerism on a generational scale building the economy with it.

According to Matt Peterson, founder of Kairos Traders, every sector is needed to make a change for people and planet, but business offers a unique solution. It can seem counterintuitive to have a triple bottom line, but success is proving why social enterprise works.

Profit is needed to be able to grow and provide jobs and materials, but a business that bases its impact on community and planet is a more holistic approach that will bear more fruitful results.

– Natasha Komen

Photo: Flickr

Four major socioeconomic factors correlate significantly with the cultivation of extremism in developing nations: youth unemployment, militarization, levels of criminality, access to weapons and corruption.

These factors strengthen the four drivers of radicalization that arise in developed countries: historic conflict, corruption, acceptance of human rights and the marginalization of groups.

Two major categories of socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism include relative deprivation and general corruption. These ideas largely capture the four elements that are common among both developing and developed nations where radicalization is most common.

Relative Deprivation
Relative deprivation is the discrepancy between individuals’ expectations of justice and the state and an opposing reality and is a precursor to radicalization.

Kartika Bhatia and Hafez Ghanem argue that unemployment and underemployment can increase the likelihood of violent extremism, explaining the positive relationship between relative deprivation and radicalization. Furthermore, those with secondary educations who are unemployed or underemployed have the highest risk of becoming radicalized.

The Global Terrorism Index discloses that those who move to Syria to become an ISIL foreign fighter experience relative deprivation in that they typically have high educations but low incomes.

Corruption
According to the Global Terrorism Index, acts of terror between 1989 and 2014, “93 percent of all terrorist attacks occurred in countries with state-sponsored terror including extra-judicial deaths, torture and imprisonment without trial” versus only 0.5 percent of countries not experiencing political terror suffering from internal terrorist acts.

Poor socioeconomic conditions like widespread poverty can lead to political instability that reinforces antidemocratic values and the disenfranchisement of citizens. This reciprocal relationship between poor socioeconomic circumstances and corruption negatively influence one another, both factors swelling each other’s occurrence.

The report also notes that “when group grievances against the state are high, and the opportunity cost of joining a rebellion is low, groups are most likely to form”.

Today and the Future
Despite it all, there is good news. In 2016, the number of terrorist attacks and deaths from the attacks have both declined by 10 percent.

A decrease in the number of instances is significant and certainly good news. But getting to the root of what is causing radicalization is the best strategy to ameliorate the socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism in general.

The creation of anti-corruption measures is being enforced globally. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption recognizes the destructive effects that corruption has on citizens. Postulating corruption as a global issue, the convention proposes a set of regulations that fights to eliminate corruption both before and after it occurs.

Matthew Murray, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, takes the position that freedom from official corruption is a human right and international law should reflect that.

The legal advocacy of recognizing corruption as a crime against human rights is a fundamental step toward global initiatives that will combat corruption preying on vulnerable nations.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

Forefront of the Magsaysay Award
The Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s premier prize and honor similar to a Nobel Prize, was given this year to two Indian social rights advocates. Recipients Bezwada Wilson and Thodur Madabusi Krishna were recognized for their dedication to advocacy for the poorest citizens in India.

Wilson received the award for organizing a grass-roots movement to end the demeaning work of manual scavenging, the practice of removing and disposing of excrement from dry latrines. The work, which usually falls to women and girls of the Dalit caste for little pay, was banned in 1993. Regardless, 180,000 households still service 790,000 public and private latrines.

Wilson was born into a manual scavenging family and was the first in his family to pursue higher education. His organization, Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), has helped to liberate over 300,000 of the estimated 600,000 manual scavengers in India. SKA keeps self-emancipation at the core of its mission, and the Magsaysay Award Foundation recognized his “moral energy and prodigious skill in leading a grassroots movement to eradicate the degrading servitude.”

Krishna was born into a more affluent Brahmin family and trained in the classical Carnatic music style from the age of 6. Realizing Carnatic music was needlessly reserved for only the Brahmin class, Krishna set out to create a more inclusive music culture in India. He spread Carnatic music by playing in public schools and venues that had never seen a classical Carnatic musician before.

Krishna has familiarized himself with the whole of India’s music culture and is working to make all aspects, from Dalit music tradition to Carnatic music, more open and democratic. He has developed the first Carnatic music curriculum to bring to communities that would otherwise have very little exposure. He has worked to bring divided communities together through music and is being recognized for his advocacy and resolve to share his passion with others.

The Magsaysay Award Foundation has recognized these two men for their dedication to helping others overcome social obstacles. Even after a restrictive social hierarchy is officially abolished, lingering cultural practices make social mobility and freedom difficult for many. It is only with the hard work of people like Wilson, Krishna, members of SKA, children open to learning new music and culture and others like them that change can occur.

Lia Jean Ferguson

Photo: Flickr