What is "social reform"?

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"Social reform" refers to movements organized by community members aiming to create societal change, particularly focusing on justice and rectifying injustices affecting specific groups. Unlike revolutions, which seek to dismantle and rebuild societal structures, reforms work within existing frameworks to achieve gradual, tangible improvements. Examples of social reform include the American Women's Suffrage movement and the Progressive Movement, which addressed issues stemming from industrialization, like poor living conditions and child labor abuses. Social reformists advocate for change legally and non-violently, distinguishing them from more radical approaches.

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Social reform is a general term that is used to describe movements organized by members of a community who aim to create change in their society. These changes often relate to justice and ways that a society is currently relying on injustices for certain groups in order to function.

The concept of "reform" is distinguished from "revolution" because reform aims to work within existing structures and solve structural problems; revolution, on the other hand, aims to dismantle and create new structures. The French Revolution, in which the French people overthrew their monarchy and implemented a democracy, is social revolution, not social reform. Reform aims to be gradual and to make tangible changes for members of the community.

Social reform is not limited to any specific time period or society; rather, it describes the organizing of people to implement gradual change toward justice. An example of a social reform movement is the American Women's Suffrage movement. Women in the United States experienced injustice in their inability to legally vote, so they organized among themselves and gathered support from allies. They did not want to dismantle the voting system altogether, but rather, they worked to ensure that the system was inclusive of their voices.

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Individuals that involve themselves in social reform seek to raise the quality of life for others. Throughout America's history there have been many social reform movements, temperance,abolition,women's rights, civil rights, labor rights. One example was the Progressive Movement of the early 20th century in the U.S. This movement sought to correct the negative effects the industrial revolution had upon American society. Individuals involved in the movement raised awareness to the horrible living conditions in the crowded cities, sanitary and health issues in the meat packing industries, and child labor abuses were among the first steps in changing the society. Social reform movements were and are still rooted in a liberal political perspective. Social reformists look towards the future for change, operate within the framework of the law, (which separates them from the radical or reactionary movements that will use violence as a means to their ends) to effect a gradual change that will ultimately benefit the society as a whole.

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