Chicano Movement

FYE/SOC20/EWRT/READ Winter 2013                                     Myhre/Leonard/Quigley/Quintero/Malavade

A Useful Story?:

What We Learn about Social Change from Social Movement Narratives


As Herbert Kohl pointed out so effectively in “The Politics of Children’s Literature,” much of what we learn about social movements focuses on individual heroes, if we learn anything at all.  This diminishes the massive organizing work done by all the many participants in a social movement.  Or we learn about “progress” as if it just happens, rather than as if it is something won at great cost by the collective and disciplined struggle of people fighting for change.  However, there is a large body of research in sociology about how people come together most effectively to try to solve social problems.  In SOC20, we have been studying what sociologists have identified as the most effective kinds of claims, recruitment, mobilization and solidarity-building techniques, strategies, and organizational forms.  Yet, stories about social movements often do not teach us about these techniques for making change.  The goal of this project is to analyze different kinds of narratives about social movements for what they do and don’t teach us about how people make change.


Essay Task

Compare and contrast different kinds of narratives about the social movement you choose.  Analyze what messages each type of source conveys about how social change happens.  Where do these narratives overlap and how do they diverge?  To what extent do these narratives capture what sociologists have learned about the most effective ways to make change?


Choose one social movement from the following list to research different kinds of movement narratives: the U.S. women’s suffrage movement, the U.S. women’s liberation movement, the abolitionist movement in the U.S., the civil rights movement, the Chicano movement (including the farmworkers movement), the anti-apartheid movement, the American Indian Movement, the U.S. labor movement, the disability rights movement, the Black Power movement, the environmental or environment justice movements, the anti-globalization movement, or the gay/lesbian rights movement.  (You may propose a movement to Jen that is not on this list but it has to be a movement about which you can find the different kinds of narratives listed below.)


Bibliography—DUE WEEK 3

Your first job is to compile a bibliography (using MLA citation format) that includes one each of the following 7 types of sources:

¨  A children’s book about the social movement, preferably a picture book if possible but otherwise a children’s book for kids up to age 10

¨  A Wikipedia entry about the social movement

¨  An academic encyclopedia reference about the social movement

¨  An academic, peer-reviewed journal article about the social movement

¨  A popular newspaper or newsmagazine article about the social movement

¨  A credible website (one that fulfills the CRAP test) with information about the social movement

¨  A primary source about the movement (including but not limited to movement organization website, print or online interviews with movement activists, movement documents or art, activist generated writing, documentaries featuring living movement activists, etc.)


Questions to Ask of your Sources

Below is a list of questions to guide your thinking as you read the seven movement narratives you identified.  These questions are based on the kinds of questions sociologists ask about how social movements work.  Your goal when reading and analyzing these seven texts is to figure out what they tell us about the answers to these questions.  Where do the texts overlap—what similar story are they telling?  And where do they diverge? 

  • What is the origin story of this social movement?  How and why was it started?  What kinds of political opportunities did it take advantage of?   Who started it and for what purpose?
  • How did the movement recruit new members and try to build solidarity?
  • What kinds of claims (grounds, warrants, conclusions) does the social movement make about the social problem and using what formats?
  • What are the long and short term goals of the movement?
  • Who is the target(s)?  Who can give the movement what it wanted?
  • What kinds of strategies does the organization use?  How did they work?  How did the target respond?
  • Who are the different players/organizations involved in this movement?  What kinds of internal disagreements take place in the movement?  Why?  Does the movement benefit from radical flank effects or is the infighting ultimately destructive?
  • What is the social movement’s larger environment like?  How does the movement relate to the larger public?  To its constituents and/or clients?  To its opponents, competitors, targets or authorities?  How is the organization affected by the larger cultural environment?
  • What have been the organization’s outcomes—public policy, institutional, individual, cultural or otherwise?  How has it succeeded?  How has it failed?  How has it influenced the social problem?
  • What is left out or missing from the narrative that you are examining?


Annotated Bibliography—DUE WEEK 5

Given what you learned above, your next task is to write descriptive and evaluative summaries on each of the seven sources you compiled above. In your annotated bibliography summaries, tell us which of the questions above this source answers and how. See related handout for further explanation and instructions for completing an annotated bibliography using MLA format.


Essay Guidelines—DUE FEBRUARY 25

  • Your essay should include an introduction with one paragraph that includes an attention grabber, an introduction of the essay’s topic, and a THESIS statement, and a second paragraph with a brief historical overview about the social movement you studied (where/when/who/why/what/how). Your body paragraphs should take the form of PIE paragraphs: Point/Illustration/Explanation.
  • Provide plenty of textual Illustrations (from at least 3 or 4 different kinds of sources) to support your Points.  Discuss your examples from these sources in specific detail.
  • Use specific concepts and passages from your sociology readings to Explain/Analyze your points and illustrations. In other words, use quotations and paraphrases DIRECTLY from our sociology readings to analyze the extent to which the narratives you researched convey how social change really happens. (Make sure to define and explain any sociological concepts to your reader.)
  • The essay should be at least 1000-1500 words excluding references (roughly 5-7 pages), double spaced, in a 12 point font with 1 inch margins.  The pages should be numbered.  Your essays should have a title page with the title of your essay and your name.
  • You must include citations for all readings and research you use, and a MLA style “Works Cited” page.
  • Imagine writing your essay for another student at De Anza who has not taken this class and is unfamiliar with the social movements and sociology you studied this quarter: be sure to define and explain any concepts that they would be unfamiliar with and give lots of context and background so that such a person would be able to understand your arguments and your textual evidence. For each example or quotation you use from your research or our readings, you must explain what it means in your own words. Use quote sandwiches!


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