avenues of communicationRosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bill Gates all started their own movements to create social change. Without their influential work, the face of society would have a different set of rules. Truly, the world would be unrecognizable. During a time before the invention of the Internet, these influential thinkers had to convince society and the government that their way of thinking should be the norm.

This sounds easier than it appears, but when one person stands up for their beliefs, many people agree and follow. Because of rallies, speeches and protests, the government listened to the people and took action. Thanks to the Internet, there are now more avenues of communication than ever before in human history. Now, people can start a social movement with a simple stroke of the keyboard.

A website called has changed the lives and social construct of people around the world. Founded in 2007, connects people across geographical and cultural borders to support causes people to care about and want justice. What makes the organization so successful and popular is that anyone can start a petition, and with the link, people with access to the Internet can electronically sign the particular petition. As of today, created a platform that has launched 14,707 victories in 196 countries. And nearly every hour, a petition on achieves victory. Every hour, a petition’s victory could be one step closer to strengthening global education or solving global poverty.

As people around the world continue to connect through the Internet, social media has become a platform to start or raise awareness for social change, especially through hashtags. Using a hashtag can spark a connection and prompt people to learn more about a particular movement. Through celebrity influence, more awareness is also raised if celebrities who support the cause tweet or post the hashtag. This method brings fans together to help the cause.

With so many avenues of communication, social change is possible and can be accomplished because anyone can create change. Through sheer determination, a social movement can end with social change.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: Change, Chase, Forbes
Photo: Change

Social change does not happen over night, nor does it happen without a mobilized mission and steadfast support. From civil rights and women’s suffrage to anti-apartheid and Occupy Wall Street, each social movement represents a cause founded upon principles of freedom and equality. However, while these initiatives share many common ideas and aims, no two movements are alike. Every social movement experiences varying degrees of success and failure. So what distinguished successful social action from the unsuccessful efforts?

Movement Action Plan (MAP)

According to American journalist and social change activist Bill Moyer social movements take time and years of planning. While this may seem like an obvious observation, many movements are all too quickly deemed ineffective before given the chance to flourish. Just because a movement does not reach its long-term goals during the first outbreak of social opposition does not mean the movement as a whole has failed. In fact, highly successful action builds momentum over time and continues to do so even after social objectives are met. In the 1970s, Moyer developed the MAP based on his analysis of numerous successful social movements. From these case studies, Moyer established eight distinct stages that help activists create effective tactics and strategies in hopes of building successful initiatives.

8 Steps to Success

1. Identify a social problem
2. Demonstrate institutional failures
3. Prepare nonviolent grassroots
4. Educate the public
5. Acknowledge opposition
6. Dedicate to long-term goals
7. Recognize success
8. Retain success

On the other hand, there are many noble causes with passionate supporters that simply lack the political organization and focus to get off the ground and make a serious impact on popular opinion. A CNN article, ‘Why Some Movements Work and Others Wilt,’ highlights some of the common errors of failed social initiatives, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement.

4 Things to Avoid

1. Do not be deceived by spontaneity
2. Do not just take it to the streets
3. Do not underestimate silent suffering
4. Do not fight the Man; work with him

The article sheds light on common misconceptions and stereotypes placed on social movements. Not all action has to be radical, aggressive, and impulsive. On the contrary, successful initiatives tend to be slow, deliberate, and subtle. “Successful movements just don’t take it to the streets. They elect candidates, pass laws, set up institutions to raise money, train people and produce leaders.” Likewise, rarely is there one event that sparks outright revolution, but rather, the “steady build up” of social discontent and degradation eventually leads to action.

Equally important to the success of a social movement is its leaders’ ability to work with, not against, governmental institutions. The political and economic support of influential elites provides legitimization for many social causes. “A movement, though, can’t appeal to the altruism of elites to get their support. Elites help movements when they feel their own interests are threatened.”

The Borgen Project finds much success in mitigating global poverty due, in great part, to its determined collaboration with United States congressional leaders. Not only does the campaign emphasize all the ways alleviating global poverty works in the best interest of the U.S., but The Borgen Project also uses legislation to support effective policies in order to combat global poverty.

The successes are numerous, as the campaign continues to improve the lives of people all over the world. “Over the past 20 years, the number of the world’s chronically undernourished has been reduced by 50 percent.” The mission is by no means complete, but in order to retain success, The Borgen Project continues to educate and advocate in the fight against global injustices.

– Gloria Kostadinova

Sources: CNN, The Borgen Project
Photo: Occupy