American society produces numerous social movements to address perceived problems affecting segments of the population or the population as a whole. An examination of the general development of social movements and of the leadership and membership of three current social movements--the Black Power movement, the Civil Rights movement, and the Pro-life movement--will serve to show the nature, development, and perhaps future of these movements. For a social movement to occur, the following must take place:
1) some members of society must share a grievance they want to correct;
2) they must have hope and think there is a possibility of success;
3) there is often a precipitating event that ignites these grievances and convinces the people that the time for action has arrived;
4) people are recruited through a network of attachments.
For a social movement to succeed, the following must occur:
1) it must achieve an effective mobilization of people and resources;
2) it must withstand or overcome external opposition;
3) the fate of the movement depends on enlisting external allies from other major groups;
4) the movement will tend to be embodied in several separate organizations which may cooperate but which often compete vigorously.
Stewart, Smith, and Denton (1989) further identify a social movement as having at least minimal organization, meaning we can identify leaders, membership, and one or more organizations.
Luker (1984) identifies sufficient leadership, membership, and organizations in the pro-life camp to constitute a movement, and she sees this movement as having coalesced largely since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, though there were small pro-life groups prior to that decision. Since 1973, the membership has felt fewer constraints about expressing their concerns "in vivid, public, and emotional ways" (Luker, 1984, 145). The membership changed after 1973. Previously, most were act...