Social Movement Research Paper

The social movement phenomenon has long been examined. Scholars have articulated different theories in attempt to try to explain social movements by answering questions the key questions: How? What? Why? I will attempt to do the same. The what in my case is the contemporary on going debate of the Charter School Movement and counter-movement. The why is clear, in that both movements’ goals are to provide opportunities for a quality education. The how question however, is a lot less clear. But through careful examination, I will argue that both the pro-charter school movement and the anti-charter school movement employ rights language advance their own interests. To illustrate this, I will apply the ideas from scholars Hunt and Gramsci, who …show more content…
On the pro-charter side is the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), a leading national nonprofit organization that is committed to advancing the Public Charter School Movement. On the other side of the debate is the Citizens for Public Schools organization (CPS). CPS is an organization committed to protecting public schools and public education. The NAPCS mission is encapsulated in their slogan “ Every Child Deserves a Great Education”(National Alliance for Public Charter Schools). Stated on the CPS mission statement, is the goal to “Ensure equal access and educational opportunities for every child” ("Mission Statement"). As seen by both organizations’ slogans, the wording is slightly different but the mission is essentially the …show more content…
Hunt asks the question: “ Can rights contribute to the realization of progressive social causes?” (227). Using Gramscian concepts of hegemony and counter hegemony he argues that rights do contribute. According to Gramsci, hegemony is the “active process involving the production, reproduction, and mobilization of popular consent” (Hunt, 229). He articulates that to achieve hegemony, you must transition from posing issues in “corporate” terms to transforming them onto a “universal” plane (Hunt, 232). In other words, Gramsci is arguing to transition from a local interest and transform it into a common interest.
Counter hegemony, on the other hand, is the process by “ which subordinate classes challenges the dominant hegemony and seek to supplant it by articulating an alternative hegemony” (Hunt, 230). To achieve counter hegemony, he states that it requires a “reworking” or “refashioning” of the elements of the existing hegemony (Hunt, 233). Hunt takes this idea of counter hegemony and argues that it can be used as a strategy to advance social movements. But it requires a transition from the discourse of “interests” to the discourse of rights (Hunt, 241). He argues that by using the discourse of rights, it moves the movement to a “universal” plane and is capable of “articulating social norms that are general and capable of sustaining legitimation” (Hunt, 241). He illustrates that by reworking popular discourses like democracy,

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