Imagining Other


‘People Power’


Overview of Protest Movements/Social Movements (Learning Outcomes Summary)


Imagining Other Index Page

The Environment Movement


Labour Movement:

Historical Origins: industrial revolution, new work patterns and new social class structure, including and ‘owning/managing’ class

Context: capitalism and managerialism, lack of representation of working class.

Beliefs: socialism (Marxism/social democracy), revolution/reform/representation

Composition: trade unions, workers’ control, Labour Party, CP, Trots, anarchists etc. Individuals: Marx and other philosophers, radical historians and writers, E.P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, William Morris

Strategy/tactics: strikes, occupations, revolution versus representation, trade unionism

Achievements: social democratic parties, trade union movement, health and safety – but: exploitation still?


Peace/Nuclear Disarmament:

Historical Origins: 19th century conflicts and two world wars, and new movement in response to nuclear weapons

Context: costs of world wars, dangers of nuclear weapons, arms race, lack of accountability of governments/armed forces

Beliefs: pacifism (non-violence) or for constraints on war

Composition: women, COs, PPU, CND. Individuals: Russell, Dick Shepherd, Canon Collins

Strategy/tactics: pacifism, non-violent direct action, petitions and marches

Achievements: conventions e.g. against torture, attacks on civilians, war crime trials, UN peacekeeping forces, attempts to restrict nuclear weapons – but: warfare still claims many lives, and conventions often




Historical Origins: 20th century when youth had more money, generational reaction – but also a reaction against materialism

Context: contradiction between ‘you’ve never had it so good’ and authoritarian/paternalistic attitudes of older generation, new technology allowing new culture, drugs

Beliefs: recreation or protest? Alternative society or hedonistic individualism?

Composition: Beats, hippies, yippies. Individuals: Kerouac, Ginsburg, Leary

Strategy/tactics: (?!) Love-ins, raves, music and poetry

Achievements: variety of different ‘home-grown’ arts productions, fashions etc – but Thatcherism?



Historical Origins: 18th century ‘enlightenment’ and ‘democracy’ (for the vote), phases after World War I and during ‘60s

Context: patriarchy in power-structures, attitudes and social institutions

Beliefs: suffragettes, radical feminists, postmodern feminism (three waves)

Composition: (see beliefs also), middle class?, lesbianism/separatism, Reclaim the Streets, Women Against Violence etc.

Individuals: Mary Wollstonecraft, de Beauvoir, Kate Millett, Betty Friedan, Adrienne Rich, Germaine Greer

Strategy/tactics: suffragettes, consciousness-raising, militant or otherwise, separatism/lesbianism, changing deep-seated attitudes and beliefs (philosophers)

Achievements: the vote (!) and representation (some), equalities legislation (but still unequal pay), women writers, artists etc – but: still violence and discrimination



Historical Origins: late 19th century reaction to environmental damage from industry, early 20th century (insecticides, limits to growth, global warming).

Context: ‘silent spring’, health impacts of air pollution, growth drive in western societies and its costs.

Beliefs: light to dark green, sustainable business versus new life-style.

Composition: conservation groups, FOE, Greenpeace, Green Parties. Individuals: Rachel Carson, Club of Rome, Barry Commoner, James Lovelock, Murray Bookchin

Strategy/tactics: protest, pressure for legislation, non-violence, sabotage and direct action

Achievements: bans on pollutants, international monitoring etc – but: man-made climate-change persists, international agreements are weak, and power of industry lobby – also species are being destroyed,

            toxic chemicals dumped etc.



A few useful books for further reading:


The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Protest, Edited Brian MacArthur, Penguin, 1999.

Age of Extremes: The Short twentieth Century, Eric Hobsbawm, Abacus, 1999.

The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert, Bloomsbury, 2014.