Douglas College wordmark
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Snapchat logo YouTube logo Wordpress logo
back to search

Social Movements

Course Code: SOCI 2220
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Sociology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

Understanding the processes of social change in any society requires an examination of the role of social movements. Social movements can be broadly defined as groups in civil society organizing to bring about social change. It is often commented that such movements are distinctly modern phenomena, made possible by social, economic, and political changes occurring in the contemporary era. In the first part of the course, we will undertake a brief survey of the historical roots of the rise of social movements in the Western world, and then undertake an examination of classical and contemporary social movement theory. Following this, drawing on social movement theories, we will examine some social movements that have had an impact in North America and other parts of the world since the 1960s.

Course Content

  1. Introduction
    • Social Change and Social Movements
    • The origins of social movements and sociology
    • Conservative, reformist and revolutionary responses to social and political transformations
  2. Social Movement Theories
    • Theories of collective behaviour
    • Resource Mobilization theory
    • Framing theory
    • New Social Movements theory
    • The role of social media in social movement organization and activism
    • Countermovements: Reactions and resistance to social movement success
  3. Labour Movements
    • Labour activism in Canada and the U.S.
    • Recent challenges to the labour movement and unions
    • Anti-poverty movements
  4. Civil Rights Movements
    • Civil rights movements in Canada and the U.S.
    • Civil rights movements in non-Western societies
  5. Aboriginal Social Movements
    • Critical events in the emergence and growth of Aboriginal activism in Canada
    • The rise of Aboriginal social movement organizations in Canada
    • Types of Aboriginal activism: Formal institutional, grass roots, direct actions
    • The rise of Indigenous rights movements globally
  6. Women’s Movements
    • Historical shifts in the aims and achievements of women’s movements in Western societies
    • Formal and grass-roots women’s rights organizations and actions
    • Women's movements in non-Western societies
    • Countermovements: Reactions to the successes of women’s movements
  7. Men’s Movements
    • Pro-feminist and anti-feminist men’s movements
    • Fathers’ rights groups in North America
  8. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender [LGBT] Movements
    • Origins of the LGBT Movements in Canada
    • Struggles for Equal Rights in Canada and abroad
    • Same-sex marriage in Canada and the United States
    • AIDS activism
  9. Environmental Movements
    • Conditions for the emergence of the environmental movement
    • The rise of large environmental organizations
    • Grass-roots environmental movements
    • Types of environmental movement activism: Formal institutional, grass roots, direct actions
    • Environmental countermovements
  10. Anti-Corporate Globalization Movements
    • Anti-corporate movements as New Social Movements
    • Transnational activism
  11. Conclusion
    • The End of History? The Future of Social Movements.

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods, including lectures, small group discussions, audio-visual presentations, and guest speakers.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will take place in accordance with Douglas College Policy.  Evaluation will be based on course objectives and may include quizzes, exams, critical essays, literature reviews, term/research projects, media analyses, oral presentations, or multi-media presentations.  The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the course.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

First in-class exam   20%
Reading analysis   10%
Research topic and proposal     10%
Research essay   25%
Participation   10%
Final exam   25%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

During this course, students will develop the ability to examine and critically analyze:

  • the social, economic and political changes that provided the conditions for the rise of social movements;
  • the centrality of social movements to the constitution of modern Western societies;
  • classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives on how social movements form, and the conditions under which they grow and gain influence;
  • how social movements interact with governments, corporations, and other social institutions;
  • social movement activities in non-western societies;
  • a range of social issues and movements.

course prerequisites

One of SOCI 1125, SOCI 1145 or SOCI 1155



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.