Foundational Paradigms of Social Sciences

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 9
Words: 2248
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: College

What is the paradigm or paradigms in the existing social system that you are addressing?

Moyer and others note that social movements rely on unconventional and radical movement strategies in promoting autonomy and self-determination in society as ways of enhancing the existing paradigm. This observation is also evident in the works of other scholars who note that social movements are varieties of submerged networks of paradigms i.e. they do not have a centralized form of organization. The main reasons for the rise of social movements are because of their focus on realizing change in daily life, raise the consciousness of society, reinforce identity, and transform social relations in society to establish paradigms.

Social systems are subsets of community organizations, as practices and strategies to change community relations and behavior patterns to promote development, allocation, redistribution, and control of community status and resources, including social power. Therefore, social systems rise as collective endeavors aiming at promoting a cause or making a social change in the face of the opposition. The social system brings together people with similar grievances to take similar direct action. The fundamental point of the social movement lies in the aggrieved feelings.

The social system aims at promoting change, ranging from reformist, incremental change to radical, fundamental change. Advocates who use social movements are mainly reactionaries and progressive. They aim to redistribute community resources, particularly social power, and social relationships. Some of the tactics and strategies advocates in social system use include social marketing campaigns to educate and create awareness about social conditions. Advocates in this movement also use coalition building and networking, direct action of coalitions, and political actions. These include public demonstrations, disruption, and nonviolent civil disobedience.

Scholars who have concentrated on New Social Movements argue that social movement emanates out of the need for both a challenge and an alternative to the conservative labor movement. The social system concentrates on new issues in society, such as peace (protest against nuclear weapons), the environment, and advocacy for the rights of women and children. Scholars note that social movement groups transcend materialism and distinction between left and right i.e. the concept of value shift hypothesis.

Gladwell points out that society is undergoing intense changes in terms of social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions (Gladwell, 2002). Occasionally, leaders may ignore the effects and transformations in the face of these changes. Instead, they should be ready to evaluate the direction, intensity, and nature of these changes in society. When such leaders fail to take action, social movement emerges to assess the effects of these changes on public values. Cohen sees social movement as a macro-context of mobilization and symbolic action in the state or political sphere.

The modern explanation of value, shift hypothesis lies with a model of society e.g. post-industrial society, information society, and advanced capitalism among others. To understand the hypothesis of value shift, its concepts must focus on the agents of change, such as social, political, and economic which have taken place within a given period.

Once the dissidents realize that changes have occurred in society, they begin to find out the extent and direction of these changes. The advocates measure these changes about materialist or post-materialist aspects.

When scholars approach social movements using Marxist theory, they note that collective actions have their roots in the economic logic of capitalist production and class reductionism. In other words, class relations rooted in the process of production define most of the significant participants in social movements. This mainly refers to marginalized collective action outside the revolution. However, new social movements focus on politics, ideology, culture, identity e.g. sex, gender, and gender, among others spheres as the basis of most collective action.

Is it necessary to facilitate change in the paradigm(s) to create the change you want to create in the system?

It is necessary to facilitate change in the paradigm to create the desired change in the system, at least, according to the New Social Movement. Occasionally, people may have a problem understanding what change is. This may involve the causes, processes, and consequences. We must also note that a change may involve multiple levels, such as individual, social, cultural, society, or organization. The problem is that there is no clear-cut line among these levels of change. As people begin to embrace the paradigm shift, they have noted that enhancing the change process is necessary to achieve the desired results. People tend to believe that creating change is essential in improving the current social situation.

Occasionally, the need for change may be necessitated by the prevailing social circumstances in society. As we have noticed, if we do not manage social conditions in society, then they are likely to affect us in negative manners. This is because the resultant change may influence how we think and act. Social systems can work for us or against us in achieving. In most cases, the prevailing social circumstances normally work against us.

If we manage the process well, then we can distinguish between success and failure in a social system. Therefore, it is essential to create and manage change in a way that it benefits and helps achieve the desired results. This implies that creating a change to achieve the desired change is not an option, but a necessity especially in areas of achieving social good and achieving performance improvement.

Scholars in the field of social movements have noted that a paradigm has a role to play in explaining several observed circumstances. It can also solve many problems people seek solutions to eradicate. Thus, the paradigm remains dominant in explaining social problems. When we have a new paradigm, the result is most likely to create a broad paradigm shift in social processes. This means that the usual social order in society can never remain the same. The results involve some revolutions that cover essential aspects of basic social conditions. Paradigm change is taking us close to an accurate and full knowledge of the objective truth in society.

However, as we seek change to create desired results, we must understand the roles resources play in enhancing change in society. People join social movements for resource gain rather than a collective end goal. Other studies by other scholars established that resources contributed greatly to social movements. Strong leadership and a highly integrated community of people who share an activist orientation have contributed to the rise of social movements. New social movements have become decentralized. Some studies indicate that resource mobilization theory fails to explain why individuals become a part of social movements.

Studies indicate that resources are catalysts for mobilization than events. Groups rise without resources other than a public advantage in mind, and with supporters willing to protest. However, if such beginnings are successful, they generate patron support or even state positions. In the absence of resources, dissident leaders lack the means to provide selective advantages or merely provide means of transportation for their supporters to carry out demonstrations, street rallies, blockades, and sit-ins. This explains why studies indicate that resources are mandatory in collective action to facilitate movements. The two scholars further highlight that most protests do not take place because of resources or failure to amass resources.

What are some of the strategies and tactics you might employ to alter the thinking and actions of the participants in the system?

Strategies are long-term, multifaceted, and generally incorporate a variety of tactics that activists consider appropriate to the context, objectives, and available resources. Moyer and others argue that many advocates tend to focus primarily on tactics, which render them less likely to achieve their goals than activists (Moyer, McAllister, Finley and Soifer, 2001).

This is because tactics approaches make use of regular press releases with the hope that the media will report their grievances to decision-makers, and preferred actions and policies will follow. Consequently, several strategies and factors are influencing the choice of advocacy strategies. The traditional models and strategies of advocacy came in two forms. These included self-advocacy and one to one advocacy. They were all equal in value and served specific needs.

These traditional approaches included group or collective advocacy, self-advocacy, and issue-based advocacy. There were other forms of advocacy, such as peer advocacy where all the parties share similar experiences, citizen advocacy where individuals fight for the rights of the disadvantaged citizens, non instructed advocacy where individuals think that they are free to communicate their ideas. In recent times, other forms of advocacy have emerged such as the works of lawyers, self-help groups, religious groups, and workgroups, among others. However, these groups do not fully adopt the title of advocacy.

Group advocacy as a strategy can come from case advocacy. Group advocacy can be part of a certain effort, or ongoing community activity, or a social movement. This strategy helps society to develop consciousness, collective consciousness, knowledge, and skills for self-advocacy. When advocates assess a situation in society, they may start with an individual, and end up advocating for a group. For instance, in a regime of dictatorship, the problem may start with an individual, political detainee, and end up affecting the rest of other detainees.

Community advocacy has multiple facets and acts as a bridge between the micro and macro advocacy modalities. This strategy requires community consciousness-raising and education about tactics challenging the status quo. Most community advocacies occur as a result of disheartening situations, conditions that cause disadvantages, aggravate, or harm a segment or the whole community.

According to Shirky, the strategy of internal change creates empowerment and capacity for new social constructions. However, patterns and constructions of reality in advocacy can discourage the involvement of people in advocacy. The role of social action is to raise consciousness for possible action systems (Shirky, 2008).

Some scholars note that three collective action frames facilitate social action. These are the frames advocates use to justify their social actions. The author argues that the injustice component consists of moral indignation that occurs as a part of a political process. Studies show that agencies believe that they can take action through collective social action. Social changes in society may affect people and the advocates must prevail over such effects.

Scholars in this field indicate that social actions’ main concern is to challenge people who hold power. This is because social actions promote insurgency, reform movements, reforms, and third-party traditions. They recognize that social action of today uses media events, such as Tea Bagger, internets and, social network sites, other campaigns aimed for reforms unlike in the past where inadequate resources and technology affected the works of advocates.

Activists use social action internationally with strategies of demonstrations and protests for several reasons. For instance, in Palestine activists use social action to fight for liberation whereas, in developed nations, they use social action to condemn unfriendly corporate and political globalization actions. We can recognize social action on the streets, traditional media, and social media. This strategy works best to promote changes and reforms, such as radical, incremental, and fundamental changes in society. These changes aim to distribute, redistribute community resources, and social powers. This strategy has worked well in developed nations such as the US and emerging economies like South Africa.

What, for you, would be the signs that a paradigm shift has occurred?

Several indicators show change has taken place. These may vary depending on individuals, organizations, or communities. First, when we define an issue differently in the community or larger society, this is an indication that a paradigm shift has occurred. For instance, an organization may reject a certain description that it does not like. Therefore, when there is a new description for an issue, then we may say that there is a paradigm shift.

Second, individuals’ behavior is also an indicator that there is a paradigm shift in the community. For instance, social movements may aim to educate people about the values of participating in political and social processes for their benefits. As a result, majorities who used to skip such processes may join the rest in participation. Therefore, behavior change is an indicator of a change in society.

Third, individuals may become more engaged than before in the community or a larger society when there is a paradigm shift. For instance, an advocacy group may condemn the harsh treatment of the homeless during forceful evacuation by local city authorities. The concerned people may also spread the news and contact relevant bodies to determine what they can do to help the homeless.

Fourth, we can note a paradigm shift in the behavior of organizations, institutions, and changes in laws or policies of the land. For instance, a human rights body may protest about the extra-judicial killings witnessed in the recent past. They may target the government or a particular agency responsible for promoting the lives of a nation’s citizens. When there is a paradigm shift in organizations, they are likely to create conclusive policies.

Fifth, a paradigm shift may also be present in the way individuals or societies have maintained their past gains, particularly before oppositions. For example, where natural calamities have destroyed shelter, we may decide to help such people rebuild their homes and lives so that they continue with their normal lives.


Gladwell, M. (2002). The tipping point. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.

Moyer, B., McAllister, J., Finley, M.L., & Soifer, S. (2001). Doing democracy: The map model for organizing social movements. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press.