The recent wave of protests around the world reflect this generation’s struggles for economic, social, and political justice. Protests are changing from unstructured acts of civic demonstration to organized movements demanding social and political revolution through outcries of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” “We Are All Muslim,” and “We Are The 99%,” by way of examples. While these traditional forms of street protests have an enduring place in our societies, the advent of the internet and social media takes these movements from being isolated incidents to uniting the world on human rights issues that affect us all. These burgeoning social movements have some immediate impact; however, systemic transformation takes time and requires clear mandates for future action. The key question then becomes—how to take social and political activism from the streets to affect real change? This lecture examines these issues and analyzes the unique characteristics of social movements in the 21st century, their effectiveness, and the influence of technology to further or hinder a movement’s capability to ignite change.
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