Social Activist Biographies & Memoirs
In Social Activist Biographies & Memoirs, you study the life story of a social activist. This course explores the activist's struggle against injustice and aims to challenge the status quo. The course helps students realize that social activists are flawed human beings who made sacrifices and faced obstacles along the way. They also learn about the societal context in which they worked.
Activists challenge inequality by empowering the powerless
"Social activists challenge inequality by empowering the powerless" aims to challenge the current status quo by focusing on new forms of power at the local level. These new forms of power are rarely conceptualized in ways that give activism its power and potency. But they are emerging. Here are four examples of new forms of power emerging from the grassroots of social movements around the world. In each case, the empowerment of the powerless is central to the process of challenging the system.
The first study examined the relationship between digital activism and the 'class gap.' They found that the digital activism of middle-class groups was more likely to be conducted by individuals with higher levels of education than the activism of those from poorer backgrounds. The authors also noted that digital activism differs among groups with different levels of economic resources: middle and upper-class organizations used social media and websites more than low-income or working-class organizations. However, these differences do not equalize participation in digital activism.
The second study analyzed the role of democracy within social movements. Francesca Polleta traced the rise of alternative intra-movement democracy back to the civil rights movement. In addition, she looked at the relationship between participatory democracy and radical democratic groups, such as antiglobalization groups. The research was critical in terms of revealing the complexities of social movements and the nature of democracy. The UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy supports collective work aimed at challenging the status quo. It is particularly interested in projects that contribute to public debate and influence policy.
While social activism takes many forms, one common goal is the fight against inequality. Cancian (1993) described activism as "a strategy that empowers the powerless by challenging inequality". He also identified several common denominators among activists. The first type of activism has a social justice goal. Inclusion is important in social justice movements. The second type of activism involves a political movement. It involves organizing demonstrations or organizing fundraisers.
In the second category, social activists have been important in bringing about change. Women's groups have taken on a variety of causes and have successfully moved diseases related to women closer to the center of health policy. Advancements in health technologies have saved millions of lives, averting untold anguish. Disempowered groups have pushed the boundaries for equality in some societies and laying claim to rights for those with sex with men. Social inclusion has improved men's health as well.
Exposing the inequalities of the status quo
One book by a social activist that I have enjoyed is Jane Addams' Hull-House. This is an autobiography written by the founder of the settlement house movement in the United States. Addams, a lone woman, rejected motherhood and marriage, and instead moved to an old mansion in an immigrant neighborhood in Chicago. Hull-House was the focus of her political and philanthropic efforts.
Writing Activists' Lives: Biography, Gender, and Society
In writing activists' lives, students learn about the lives of women who fought for social change. Biographies of women from the early suffrage movement to current activists explore the human side of activism. As a result, students begin to understand the human frailty behind the ideals of activists. Biographies of women in the social justice movement help students understand that these individuals were flawed and human, just like everyone else.
The women's movement was born in North America, where women were allowed to go to school much earlier than in Europe. When women begin to educate themselves, they begin to question society's values and beliefs. The first activists made their way around North America and fought to free women from slavery and other forms of oppression. In 1848, they organised the first women's rights convention and continued their campaign to improve the status of women everywhere.
The feminist movement was composed of a diverse group of visionaries, activists, and daring writers. The movement opened new avenues for women to express themselves, and feminist writing continued to inspire, educate, and offend. The distorted image of feminist activists, however, occurred around the mid-'80s, when the movement began to splinter into many parts of the world and was vilified. The movement was renamed, and many women chose to reject the feminist label.
While in prison, Angela Davis became a symbol and icon of the women's movement. She was also linked to the activist Ella Baker, a woman who also suffered from the same sexism and injustice. The two women were both active in the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party, and the publication lasted until 1931. Writing activists' lives is an important part of studying gender equality.