Public Policy and Political Action

We have discussed ongoing changes in major social institutions affecting work, society, and the quality of life. By “institutions” we mean organized systems like governments, businesses, and unions. But all of these are driven and shaped in the end by groups of people organizing around their dissatisfaction with the status quo. We refer to these forms of collective action as social or political movements. Social movements are the force that makes real social change. They are hard to predict or understand: they come and go, rise and fall back unexpectedly. They can be “conservative,” defending an old way of life, or “progressive,” advocating a new vision of society. They can also be simply chaotic. In the 19th and 20th centuries social scientists focused largely on class-based movements in which workers and the poor organized against employers and/or the government. There are growing questions now about whether class is the most powerful organizing force. Some write about “new social movements” centered on social identities like race, gender or ethnicity.

Read:

Guiner, Lani. Beyond Legislatures: Social Movements, Social Change, and the Possibilities of Demosprudence.
Harold Meyerson, The Seeds of a New Labor Movement
Sarah Leonard, The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century
Forum:

Describe an example of “demosprudence” in the United States or another society. What group initially expressed dissatisfaction with the status quo, and what actions did it take to expand the audience for their movement?
In your ideal democracy, who would be responsible for ensuring that laws reflect society’s contemporary notions of justice or fairness? Explain your reasoning, and identify what roles “institutions” and “social movements” would play.
FIRST POST (50 points)

Describe an example of “demosprudence” in the United States or another society. What group initially expressed dissatisfaction with the status quo, and what actions did it take to expand the audience for their movement? [25 points]
Objective Possible Points Total Points
Define demosprudence 5
Identify a group that expressed dissatisfaction 5
Identify and analyze the actions taken 10
Use and cite external sources 5
In your ideal democracy, who would be responsible for ensuring that laws reflect society’s contemporary notions of justice or fairness? Explain your reasoning, and identify what roles “institutions” and “social movements” would play. [25 points]
Objective Possible Points Total Points
Identify who (what individuals or institutions) are responsible 5
Explain why they are responsible 10
Discuss the roles of institutions and social movements 5
Use and cite external sources 5
SECOND POST (50 points)
Objective Possible Points Total Points
Identifying your reaction (agreement, disagreement, etc.) 10
Focusing on a group member or members or the group as a whole 10
Providing a substantive response 10
Providing evidence or anecdotal evidence 10
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