Social Action

Social Action

Social action as a method of social work can be defined as efforts to bring about change or prevent change in current social practices or situations, through education, propaganda, persuasion, or pressure on behalf of objectives believed by the actionists to be socially desirable. Generally social action involves organised efforts to influence public opinion or official policy or executive action with the support of groups or individuals.

Characteristic of Social action :-
  • Social action is concerned with change in current social practices.
  • Social action involves a goal accepted as desirable and worthwhile by the social actionists.
  • Social action always involves an attempt to bring about action by people other than the social actionist.
  • Social action any include methods such as education, propaganda, persuasion or pressure but it does not recommend physical coercion or compulsion.
  • Social action to be identified with certain method and procedures rather than certain social values.

Forms of Social Action :-

Brito has identified two type of social action :-
  1. Action initiated and conducted by the elites for the benefits of the masses.
  2. Poplar social action.

He identified three sub-models of each type of social action. In the first model he has mentioned the following types.
  1. Legislative action model – In this model elites try to modify the social policy by creating public opinion against the problems.
  2. Sanction model – The elites by gaining control over some economic, social, political or religious weapons by to obtain benefits for the society.
  3. Direct physical model – Elites take action and punish those responsible for the cause of injustice

The popular social action model has the following three sup-models:-
  1. Conscientization model based on Paulo Friere’s concept of creating awareness among masses through education.
  2. Dialectical model promoting conflict to exploit the contradictions in a system with the belief that a better system will emerge as a result.
  3. Direct mobilization whereby specific issues are takes up by the actionists and masses are mobilized to protest and strike to active the objectives.

Principles of social action :-

Britto has described the following principles of social action.

  • Principle of credibility building :-
    The principle suggest to create a public image of the leadership the concerned organization and the followers of the movement as promoter and supporter of justice equity and truth.
  • Principle of Legitimization :-
    Legitimization is the process of convincing the public that the movement objectives are legal and morally right.
  • Principle of dramatization :-
    Dramatization is the principle of mass mobilization by which the leaders of a movement motivates the population by emotional appeal to heroism, sensational news powerful slogans and other techniques.
  • Principle of multiple strategies :-

    Achieving the goals and objective of social action requires the application of multiple strategies.

    Four strategies have been identified by Zeltman and Duncan. These are :-

    1. educational strategy
    2. Persuasive strategy
    3. Facilitative strategy
    4. Power strategy .
  • Principle of dual approach :-
    The principle suggests that social actionist should build counter system. Which is believed to be beneficial to the needs of the mobilized public on self help basis without involving opponents. Counter system must be built up and traditional systems inputs be transformed in any developmental operation.
  • Principle of Manifold Programs :-
    The principle recommend three categories of program such as social program, economic programs and political programs.

Strategies of Social Action :-

Desai (1984) has classified the strategies for social action into three categories. Bargaining, Negotiating and Advocacy :- These strategies could include technique of bargaining, negotiation, publicity which leads to discomfort for the target of change. Advocacy through the media, ‘Satyagrah’, ‘March’ method could also be used to persuade and change the target group.

Conflictual/confrontational: –

This strategy assumes that strong pressure tactics become necessary in some critical circumstances such as demonstration, civil disobedience or direct action.

Techniques of Social Action :-

Social action involves variety of tactics, often a combination of them depending on the philosophy and ideological beliefs of the sponsors. Some of the techniques
have been explicitly identified and are listed below:-

  • Fact finding
  • Publicity, advocacy, using both formal and non formal media.
  • Education, awareness building, concretization.
  • Mobilizing support and favorable opinion through establishing institutional system and political process.
  • Expressing anger, warmth, and hatred in dramatic and innovative ways.
  • Cooperation and collaboration.
  • Using slogans
  • Negotiation, bargaining and arbitration
  • Disruption (interrupt thee progress of) and mild coercion (mild resistance, protest, marches, morcha, dharna, strikes, boycotts, fasts, gharaos etc.)
  • Strong coercive tactics (extra legal measures and direct action)

Steps :-

  1. Identifying the problems (in this case injustice) diagnosing it, gathering information about it, about who the principle actor are what roles they play, what interest they have and what benefit they derive)
  2. Determining the position to be taken.
  3. Identifying the social action goals i.e. expected outcome.
  4. Mobilizing support using both non formal and formal methods and locating the network of influence and power.
  5. Setting up the machinery to carryout the struggle canvas action, provides leadership.
  6. Laying down the strategy. A well drawn out plan indicating the series of action and their networking among leaders.
  7. Laying down the communication channels and the decision making loci of the social action movement.
  8. Carrying out the action
  9. Reviewing the implementation of the strategy, weighing alternative approaches and working out alternative plans.
  10. Sustaining the pressure.

Some writers have suggested the stages as:-
– Awareness Building (step 1 & 2 of the above stages)
– Organising people (step 3,4, & 5 of the above stages)
– Developing the strategy (step 6 & 7 of the above stages)
– Action (step 8,9 & 10 of the above stages)