Which approach, the social movements model or the agitation/control model, most accurately describes what is happening in recent a social movement that is either going on or seems to be developing?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's start with defining the two models so you can recognize their application for yourself. The social movements model defines and describes a movement according to four stages. The four stages in order or occurrence are:

  • emergence
  • coalescence
  • bureaucratization
  • decline

While the four stage social movement model is useful in understanding formation, growth and eventual decline of social movements, it has limitations of application to movements that are newly emerging or that do not have political action as their aim and objective. It is most useful for sociological understanding collective social action and the effect of collective action on past events and present events. An example of a past movement with political aims and objectives that went successfully through the bureaucratization and decline stage is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The agitation/control model is different in that it defines and describes collective social movements that do not aspire to bureaucratization, do not aspire to mainstream political action. An oft used example of this is the marches, college campus violence and other protests against the continuation of the Vietnam War. To dramatize the difference between these two, it is important to note that rebellion or revolution may be within the purview of agitation in this model. A past example of this degree of agitation might be the early unionization battles that took lives because workers deemed unionization--their right to be afforded the dignities of personhood and respect and a fair, living-wage pay--was worth a life and death struggle.

Agitation is defined as:

  • social agitation in and by people outside the decision-making corridors of power
  • agitation for significant levels of or kinds of social change that may be structural change, legal change or other kinds of significant change
  • continued agitation against the establishment of decision-makers who resist to such an extent that extreme measures are required that acceptable channels of discourse and persuasion are exceeded.

One social movement of today that may be said to be developing is the the urge to collective social action against the non-governmentally controlled banking monopoly represented by the Federal Reserve Bank and equally against the secretive and powerful partnership of corporate America with military America, a partnership Eisenhower called the "industrial-military complex" when he warned America against this partnership. The model that best defines and describes this dualistic developing movement is the agitation/control model. Thus far, some of the governmental controls against this agitation have been avoidance, suppression, and some small appeasing adjustments, such as to Income Tax law.

Typical types of control steps are defined by J. W. Bowers and D.J. Ochs in The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control as:

  • avoidance (counter-persuasion, evasion, secret rationale, denial of means);
  • suppression ( leader harassment, denial of demands, banishment, murder);
  • adjustment (name change, sacrificial lambs, accepting means, co-opting);
  • capitulation (not a control response but surrender). (on MonmouthCollege.edu)

Another developing collective social movement that is worldwide is the agitation by scientists, military personnel and top government politicians and ministers to have full disclosure of international data on the phenomenon of aircraft that appear in national air trafficways that cannot be identified (otherwise called UFOs). This collective social movement might better be described by the social movement model since it is begun by government and military personnel and since the aims and objectives are for government cooperation and ultimate bureaucratization politicalization of transparent government responses all over the world.